Another Lockdown! Perhaps not quite the same as before, but a Lockdown!
The churches remain open for private prayer and what prayer was experienced in Elham church last Saturday for Eliot; “a darling’ as his Mum, Kim called him. So many people came to pray, light candles, to grieve and support this family who have lost their young son. What a community showing so much Love.
Where there is Love, there is God for God is Love and those who Love live in God and God lives in them.
God is in the midst of it all! God is in the pain, the shock, the devastation, the darkness, the blaming and the unknowing. Nothing can prepare us for this.
May we continue to uphold the Gower Family in that Love now and in the hours, days and years to come.
Without doubt this year has been difficult for many, obviously nothing compared with this family, but as we move into winter where are your thoughts? Do you feel, you have brighter days ahead? Or do you feel weighed down by the challenges, you are facing?
Ezekiel had a vision:
‘On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds or trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.’
This vision in Ezekiel chapter 47 marks change, a change of focus. The people had been in exile for 25 years and few remember how it used to be? They are at their lowest point, holding onto only negative thoughts about their future.
This vision is not wishful thinking; ‘To look on the brighter side of life;’ that old adage coming from Monty Python. But a reminder to the people that what they need, they cannot create for themselves. They need a renewed vision of who God is and to accept that they have overlooked the grace that was theirs for the asking. The image of this ‘ living water” John revisits in his Gospel; the abundant outpouring of grace into the most neglected and hopeless places bringing life and healing to all.
As the water flows see where they make their way into you, into your heart and into your experiences.
‘Everything will live where the river goes.’
Will you allow yourself to go to this river and invite the grace of God to go where it is needed? And, allow yourself to experience that Love that knows no bounds and brings about such gentle healing.
A Step Along the Way (The Romero Prayer)
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No programme accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, and opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We are workers, not master builders: ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
Zoom is a videotelephony software program. The free version provides a video chatting service that allows up to 100 devices, such as personal computers, laptops, tablets, smart phones and landlines etc to use it at once.
It is completely free to use and is secure.
It is possible to join meetings (in our case, services) and not interact at all with the other participants if you don’t wish to – just keep your camera (webcam) and microphone switched off, if you have them.
It is also possible to access a meeting by landline telephone.
Whichever way you choose to join the meeting/service, you will need to ask the organiser for the link to the website and the meeting identification code and password, preferably a few days before.
Here is a handy guide (opens in a new tab/window) produced by the A Church Near You website :
It will come as no surprise that this year's Advent events will be held on Zoom rather than in person with our usual lovely refreshments at each venue. This may widen the scope of attendance as people can join in from the warmth and comfort of their own home, with their own personal choice of refreshments at hand. These events will take place at 6pm on Wednesdays from 25th November for four weeks. We will be looking at some narratives created around the people involved in the Advent story, some bible readings, and a few examples of the artwork these stories have inspired. The narratives, scripture readings and pictures will be sent by attachment/links the week before each session. An invitation to the Zoom sessions will be sent out nearer the time.
Nor do those people who are not online need to miss out altogether. It is possible for access to Zoom events to be gained via normal phone landlines. Although this means no actual participation, you can hear the discussions, and join in with the worship*.
If you would like to participate please could you email both Mike Chinneck and Sharon Paine so that invitations can be issued. We will also aim to hold a short rehearsal a day or two before the first main session to familiarise those who are new to Zoom before the first proper session. This is a new departure for some of us, and we hope many of you will wish to join in. The email addresses are: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
(* contact Alison Dale (07985025381) who will pass the message on to Mike and Sharon)
Zoom Services (click for more information)
There will be a Benefice Zoom Service every Sunday at 9:30am from 15th November .
In addition, there will be Morning Prayer every Wednesday at 8am, and an informal prayer service every Thursday at 6pm.
All are very welcome to join these.
If you would like to do so, please contact us and we will send you the link a day or so before.
On All Saints Day the Archbishops wrote to all the clergy to
‘call upon the Church of England to make this month of lockdown a month of prayer’.
The Archbishops decided that this call would take the form of an invitation to every Christian, and person of good will to pray at 6pm every day, for the period of this present lock-down.
This call is going far and wide – and the hope is that many of our ecumenical partners will join us.
Here are links to resources to help us:
Christmas isn’t cancelled! Many things we were looking forward to in 2020 have been cancelled (from the Olympics to school graduation celebrations). Children around the world, especially those in contexts of poverty have struggled with the isolation and not being with their friends. But Christmas isn’t cancelled and together we can bring fresh joy, and hope of new life in Jesus to children through shoebox gifts.
This year Lyminge Church (and school) will once again be collecting shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child (OCC). The national collection week is 5th - 14th December so please get collecting items and packing those boxes. The pre-made boxes and the labels/leaflets can be collected from the church, which, is open every day from 0900-1700. If other churches in the benefice can collect boxes we can either collect them from you or (hopefully) you can deliver the boxes to Lyminge.
You can offer hope and joy to children like 8 year-old Athena through a simple shoebox gift. She received a shoebox gift in an impoverished area of the Philippines and said, ‘Everything was beautiful and I was so happy. What I liked most in the box was the doll. I am so grateful that they gave me a box.’ Her family expressed their gratitude and explained that through the shoebox they had decided to attend a local church and were now delighted to be part of the church family there.
A simple heartfelt gift, packed with love and fuelled by prayer can mean so much to a precious child and their family.
If you’d like to understand more about the Christmas box operation, there’s a helpful video here as well as several other resources and lots of ideas on the website. You can even pack a Shoebox Online - that way you can still join in and have fun choosing items to go into a shoebox and OCC will buy the gifts, pack and send shoeboxes for you.
The project is nearing completion, with the end in sight within several weeks. Progress has been somewhat hampered due to Covid-related problems with availability and delivery of materials, but soon the Facilities will be ready for viewing and use, Government restrictions permitting.
Here is a description of progress to date:-
· The toilet extension is complete barring the installation of the floor covering and skirting board. This includes the flower arrangers corner with a Belfast sink and storage cupboard.
· The tea station and storage cupboard in the South aisle are complete (see photograph). The standard of design and workmanship has already been much admired.
· The fabrication of the external doors for the south porch is in progress off-site, with installation due very shortly.
· The accessible ramp to the South porch has been completed, including the asphalt topping.
· The brickwork, flintwork and oak framing to the exterior walls of the extension are complete.
· Fireproofing the interior of the oil tank housing at the Southwest corner of the churchyard has been completed and the new oil tank installed. New oil supply pipelines have been installed across the churchyard from the tank housing to the South porch. Many thanks are due to the community for their patience during the time the churchyard had to be closed for safety reasons. Hope runs high that the church will be warm before the onset of winter!
· Restoration of the damaged stonework where the old flue chimney was removed has been completed.
· Final design is in progress for the wood and metal mesh boiler enclosure in the South porch.
Inevitably there had been a build-up of construction dust throughout the church. This was cleared away and the church made to sparkle by many willing hands, all in time for the first church service since lockdown held on October 4th.
This issue includes:
The Jesus Chapel will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 am to 4pm. A maximum of two people will be allowed into the chapel at one time. Social distancing must be observed, and sanitising items will be available just inside of the north door and in the Jesus Chapel. Please sanitise your hands and wipe down the chairs before and after you use them. There will be no prayer books, bibles or hymn
books available, so please bring your own books if you require them. Just the direct route from the north door to the Jesus Chapel will be accessible. Two chairs will be available just inside of the church for people who are waiting. The same sanitising wipe down procedure for these is required. Other people who are waiting are requested to wait outside of the church. .
9am to 5pm daily
9am to 5pm daily, (please don’t come in just to look around)
Everyday, during the day
Open all day, every day
Open all day, every day
There are plenty of ways you can still enjoy worship and fellowship from your own home
On the Internet:
Click on The WORD on Sunday tab above for weekly reflections and prayers from members of our Ministry Team.
Zoom services - see above. Contact Alison Dale (firstname.lastname@example.org) a couple of days before for the link.
Here are some links for videos of services and further resources from Canterbury Diocese and the Church of England
Canterbury Diocese Parish Support For some excellent resources and Apps for prayer
The cathedral will live stream a midday Eucharist and Evensong at 5.30 p.m. weekdays, and at 3.15 p.m. weekends. Please follow this link to access the live stream on YouTube
Follow the Church of England on Twitter
Daily Hope Free phone line: 0800 804 8044
Daily Hope offers music, prayers and reflections as well as full
worship services from the Church of England at the end of a
telephone line. Options available include materials such
as Prayer During the Day and Night Prayer updated daily,
from Common Worship, and a recording of the Church of
England weekly national online service. A section called
Hymn Line offers callers a small selection of hymns, updated daily. An option entitled ‘Hymns We Love’, provides a hymn and reflection and is based on an initiative by the Connections group. The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.
Assistance during Isolation
Alison Dale and some of the churchwardens (see below, marked with *) have a list of contacts who can help or provide a service to everyone in the Group, from walking a dog to supplying take-away meals. Please get in touch if you would like to find out more, or wish to make an offer of assistance to others.
ELHAM VALLEY GROUP OF CHURCHES CONTACTS:
Priest-in-Charge Rev’d Jane Weeks: 01303 840219 (Monday to Thursday. Jane is not available on Thursday evenings and all-day Friday) email@example.com
Associate Priest Rev’d Stephen Dougal: 07764775507 firstname.lastname@example.org
Pastoral Team Leader Paul Jarvis: email@example.com
*Benefice Administrator: Alison Dale: 07985025381 (Thu-Fri 9-11am)
Elham *Peter Swain 01303 840408 - *Graham Ernest-Jones 01303 840645
Acrise*Simon Smith 01303 892162 - Martin Bradley 01303 864289
Denton & Wootton Sue Clough 01303 844324.
Lyminge *Phil Hawken 01303 862151
Stanford *Sara Myers 01303 814183 - *Paul Smallwood 01303 813198
Paddlesworth Celia Mosley 01303 893609 - *Lindsey Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
At 8am every morning, the Ministry Team will be saying morning prayer - do join us in spirit!
Here are some links for further resources from Canterbury Diocese and the Church of England:
https://canterburydiocese.org/parishsupport/coronavirus/prayer-worship-during-coronavirus/- some excellent resources and Apps for prayer
CHANGING LIVES PRAYER NETWORK
The Lord's Prayer...
The cathedral will live stream a midday Eucharist and Evensong at 5.30 p.m. weekdays, and at 3.15 p.m. weekends. Please follow this link to access the live stream on YouTube:
Click here for a stunning presentation of this poem
God of creation
There at the start
Before the beginning of time
With no point of reference
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light
And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapour of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You've made
Every burning star
A signal fire of grace
If creation sings Your praises so will I
God of Your promise
You don't speak in vain
No syllable empty or void
For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice
And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You say
Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I
If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we'll sing again a hundred billion times
God of salvation
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride
On a hill You created
The light of the world
Abandoned in darkness to die
And as You speak
A hundred billion failures disappear
Where You lost Your life so I could find it here
If You left the grave behind You so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You've done
Every part designed in a work of art called love
If You gladly chose surrender so will I
I can see Your heart
Eight billion different ways
Every precious one
A child You died to save
If You gave Your life to love them so will I
Like You would again a hundred billion times
But what measure could amount to Your desire
You're the One who never leaves the one behind
© HillSongs - Capitol Christian Music Group
"Almighty God, please guide us into selfless humility that may encourage us all, to be mindful of the plight of others, in the nature and example of Jesus Christ.
To consume and take in accordance with needs, not wants, mindful of the plight and longevity of the planet which you have created, and our impermanent status as tenants.
Aware of the truth that God creates and provides, while we evolve through the discovery and development of that fact.
Loving Lord, you have made it clear to us, in many ways, that we must change and rebuild the way we lead our lives, please be with us, our strength and guide, as we attempt the difficulties of that change.
Lord... In your mercy, hear our prayer.”
Dear brothers and sisters,
Thy Kingdom Come - a global wave of prayer for our friends and family to come to know Jesus - begins this week. Here are five easy ways for you and your church to get involved:
I do hope that you'll be able to participate in some or all of these ways, so that we can all keep well, keep connected and keep praying during this extraordinary time.
For those who don’t know about Open the Book (OtB), this is a project which has been helping local primary school children hear key Bible stories from teams of Christian volunteers from one or several local churches.
One OtB team still wanted to do something for the children while unable to visit their local school. They are helping to fund a project to help children isolated in high-rise flats, or with large families unable to afford resources while isolated, called Grow@Home. This involves giving the families brown paper carrier bags filled with coloured and regular pencils, paper, rubbers and pencil sharpeners and with ideas of things to do and links to websites.
The Patch of Blue
A small book 4 x 3 inches sits on my shelf. It was written by Father Andrew of the Society of Divine Compassion in 1942. He was a priest friar whose church in London was bombed twice and yet, busy as he was, took time to write this little book of poems. His desire was to lift the spirits of the British people, much as we need now, during this current crisis. Inside the cover is the name of the original owner, James H Trench, along with his service number and base address. The following poem may lift flagging spirits today, as it did then, and is Father Andrew’s gift of love.
The sky was grey and, so it seemed to me,
The kind of grey that hovers threateningly
Above the world with all its fear and hate,
A lid to shut men down, not heaven’s gate.
Dear God, forgive me! That were never true, -
I looked again and saw a patch of blue.
One little patch of blue, but oh, so pure,
Where the grey parted, just to make me sure
The blue was there behind the shrouding grey.
That patch of blue gave courage to my day.
Friend of my heart, I pass the thought to you,
In your grey sky there’s still a patch of blue.
Grey days of duty and grey days of pain,
Grey days of weariness, again, again!
Yea, well I know it, but faith, hope, and love
Abide unconquered, and you yet shall prove
The sky holds still somewhere its patch of blue.
Here I have seen it: you shall see it too.
‘Tis grey to us maybe and wearily
We toil along; but we have had bright days;
While others wept we sang our songs of praise.
If now we only see a leaden hue,
Another’s eyes have spied a patch of blue.
Even when Christ our Lord for you and me
Breathed His last sigh of death on Calvary,
In all that darkness Love was still enthroned
And, though with bramble, royally was crowned.
Then came Ascension Day, when He passed through,
And skies for ever since have kept their blue!