Vicar's Letter

Dear Friends

After over two months living with the various restrictions of lockdown, I know many are finding it increasingly difficult and longing to be back to some kind of ‘normality’.

There are different stresses for us all currently. For those having to self-isolate due to being particularly vulnerable, or shielding other vulnerable members in their households, it can feel particularly lonely. Lots of people I speak to are missing family members and friends. Some of us are missing hugs! Virtual hugs are just not the same, are they! It is a struggle for young families, who have been thrown into home-schooling their children – like it or not -  and often trying to work from home, or care for younger children too. It is tough for those living on their own, whether self-isolating or not – a lonely time. Sometimes there can be great loneliness, even when living with others. There are those who are stuck at home feeling bored and frustrated, whilst others are busier than ever. Whatever your personal circumstances, please continue to think about, and pray for, those who are ill, and those caring for them; for our frontline workers; for the thousand who have died during this pandemic and those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. More than ever, this is a time where we need to draw on God’s strength, peace, and love; to hold on to our faith in Jesus who promises to be with us, always.

The ten days between Ascension Day (last Thursday) and Pentecost (this coming Sunday) are encouraged to be kept as a special time of prayer for all Christians and their churches - 'Thy kingdom come'. Often we have done a Prayer Walk around our parish during these ten days, shared a Quiet Day at Burnham Abbey, and enjoyed one or two special prayer evenings at the Vicarage with teaching on prayer and experiences of different ways of praying. Some of us have used the special Novena booklets of prayer for each day and shared in Morning Prayer and/or Night Prayer.

Do have a look at the many resources available for the remaining days before Pentecost on the Thy Kingdom Come website (https://www.thykingdomcome.global/prayer-resources). I would particularly recommend the excellent booklet which can be ordered or downloaded called 'Prayers for use during the coronavirus outbreak'. It has got some lovely prayers to use during this time of pandemic - some for adults, some to use with children. It also contains Morning Prayer and Night Prayer. I commend it to you, not just for this week, but in the weeks ahead too. Morning and Night Prayer can be used on your own at home, or you may like to join with 

others from CHOGS in prayer. You could sort out your own small group to pray with or join those of us already meeting via zoom to say Morning Prayer at 9.30am Monday to Saturday. This has been ongoing since Holy Week as you will know. Do join us if you are free. Anyone and everyone is welcome! We have been using the Church of England Daily Prayer App which is very easy to download on your phone or tablet/laptop. You can also download the 'Thy Kingdom Come' app for use this week with lots of resources. There is a special adventure prayer map to use with children. Do have a look to see what appeals to you or what might help you to grow in prayer.

If there are people who would be interested in one or two short zoom sessions on prayer, I am happy to offer these next week – either a daytime (2pm) or evening (7.30pm) slot, lasting roughly 30-45 minutes. Ideas of what you might find most helpful would be welcome – ‘nuts and bolts’ stuff on prayer, a Q & A session, praying with children etc. What would be most helpful to you?

I am also considering offering another introductory session on Mindfulness sometime in June - daytime or evening. During this challenging and stressful time, spending more time in prayer, or practising Mindfulness meditation could be helpful for our mental health and well-being.

We are also sharing a special 12 hours of continuous prayer with All Saints and St Luke's this coming Saturday - the day before Pentecost. This seems a particularly appropriate day to do it, as we think of the apostles waiting in prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Between 8am and 8pm, we are inviting individuals or households to volunteer to spend half an hour in prayer sometime within that time. We have 6 church members signed up so far! The day will begin with Morning Prayer at 8am via zoom, and end at 7.45pm with Night Prayer via zoom for any who might like to join in. You do not need to be on zoom for your own slot/s. You may prefer to pray Morning Prayer or Night Prayer at home on your own, at a time which fits in for you.

Can you please email me at home and/or the church office to offer a half hour of prayer - so we can keep this wave of continuous prayer going throughout the day. A few people have already signed up, but there are plenty of spaces to fill 24 half hour slots. You can specify your half hour, or just let me know times between 8am-8pm best  for you, and you will be allocated a time.

Please contact me as soon as possible if you would be willing to take part in the prayer on Saturday.

Do join in the Pentecost celebrations on Sunday – either our zoom service for all ages at 11 o’clock, or one of the streamed services available from the Diocese of Oxford ‘Church at Home’, or the Church of England websites.

Holy Spirit, sent by the Father,
ignite in us your holy fire;
strengthen your children with the gift of faith,
revive your Church with the breath of love,
and renew the face of the earth,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wishing you all a very blessed Pentecost (Whit Sunday). Come Holy Spirit.

With my love and prayers,
Joan