Hello, and welcome to our very first ‘online sermon’!
As I said in my Welcome Message, in this time of the Coronavirus we’re going to have to try to be a church together, across our Benefice, in new and different ways.
Some of us will listen to services on the radio, or watch them on TV or streamed over the internet. For others of us, we’ll want to gather together around a common message from Scripture, which we all hear together in our Cranmer Group churches.
So, this is precisely that – our first online sermon. A step into something new for us all!
I pray that this will be spiritually nourishing to us all. We hope to be able to record these sermons in future weeks as podcasts; and add additional resources for personal prayer, perhaps also for children and families to engage with together at home.
This Sunday’s message is from Alison Stewart, who would have shared this word in Aslockton, had the service been held there under normal circumstances. You can access it both as Powerpoint slides, with some prayers, additional liturgy and imagery, or as a Word transcript.
Please do let us know in the ‘Comments’ section at the end of this webpage what you think of this initiative; how we might be able to improve upon it; and any other suggestions you may have for how we can best be Christ’s church to our communities at this tough time.
I’ll end with a prayer about the Coronavirus outbreak:
Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
May God bless each one of you, and those whom you love,
Although I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting most of you, I hope that I may address you as ‘friends’, especially at this very difficult time for us all.
Some of you will know that I was due to be licensed to the Cranmer Group on Monday 23rdMarch, but that this has had to be put on hold since Clare, Esther and I are self-isolating at the moment. We hope to move into the Benefice as soon as possible, but in the meantime I’ll do my best to be in ‘virtual’ contact with as many of you as possible, as your ‘Vicar Designate’.
I know this is a time of great worry for many of us – for ourselves and our loved ones, especially those who are ill – and of great strain on many in our society, particularly those in our Health Service. Our lives look unimaginably different from only a few days ago.
Like all churches, we in the Cranmer Group have had to suspend all Sunday services and other gatherings, in all our buildings, until further notice.
However, as our Archbishops have said, “This does not mean that the Church of England has shut up shop. Far from it!”
First of all, I know that many of you are already heavily engaged – both through our churches and through other local networks – in supporting one another, especially the most vulnerable. Thank you so much for all you’re doing in this way, extending the love of Jesus Christ to each other.
We’re looking at what we can do to have all our churches open for times of private prayer and reflection, making sure that we follow hygiene and social distancing measures – do please keep looking here on the Benefice website and on local church noticeboards for when our churches will be open.
We’ll also be doing our best to have “virtual Sunday services” over the coming weeks. We’ll start with sermon transcripts, and prayers, here on the website, and then hopefully move to podcasts of sermons and prayers too – look out for more details! The BBC is also increasing its radio, TV and online output of Christian services from this weekend – join in at home. It’s likely more programmes will be added over time but, as of today, they are:
Sunday 22nd March 8.00am – BBC Radio Nottingham – Sunday Worship (led by the Archbishop of Canterbury) 8.10am – BBC Radio 4 – Sunday Worship (again, led by the Archbishop) 1.15pm – BBC 1 – Songs of Praise
And we can all of course pray wherever we are, for one another; for those serving us at this time of great need; and for the speedy ending of this Covid-19 pandemic. The Church of England has already issued some prayer resources; we’ll be putting some more for you to use, on this website over the coming days.
The leaders of all UK churches have called for this Sunday, March 22nd, to be a Day of Prayer and Action. Come together with us to pray, as we hold our nation and world before our Heavenly Father.
I’ll especially be praying at 9.00, 10.15 and 10.45 – the times of what would have been our services across the Benefice this Sunday – and at 7pm, when everyone across the UK is called upon both to pray, and to place a lighted candle in their window, as a sign of solidarity and hope. Do join us in prayer, and placing a candle in your window, at 7pm this Sunday – and encourage your friends and neighbours to do the same!
Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Followers of Jesus Christ live their lives in the knowledge and daily experience of his love and hope for everyone – the light of Christ that can never be extinguished.
Even in these seemingly dark times, may each one of you, and all whom you love, know the light of Christ shining brightly in your lives.