Many of you are aware that for the last three years we have been delighted to keep St John’s Church open. This ministry of being open to all who simply want to pray, be still, or light a candle is something we value deeply. It is wonderful to walk in and find candles burning in the evening, or people at prayer. We know that people have discovered St John’s as their Church through this. It has been with heavy hearts that we have closed the building in recent weeks, but in full knowledge that it is the right thing to do. The risk of spreading Covid-19 via doorhandles, holy water stoops, pews, and candles is just too high, and we closed the Church a few days before the Government insisted we do.
Nevertheless we do want people to know that the life of the Church goes on. To that end there is still a daily Mass live-streamed, and available as a recording on facebook. Do please do watch and comment.
We have also had a banner made to tell people this, and let them know they are being prayed for. This went up yesterday and will remain in position till such a time when these arrangement cease.
Our Bishop, the Bishop of Richborough has written to his Clergy and Laity at this time to encourage and bring us together. Please pray for him at this time.
From the Bishop of Richborough Easter 2020
Dear friends in Christ,
As you know the Chrism Masses have had to be postponed and we are unable to gather together for the renewal of our Christian commitment and the blessing of the oils. For all of us this is very disorientating and disappointing and something none of us could have planned for. As it happens, for this year I’d ordered luminous green Richborough Family wrist bands and new glossy service booklets which will now have to wait till we have the all clear to gather again for worship!
The impact on our lives has still to be measured and we all have a long way to go. Like you I am finding the shut down difficult and I am really missing the privilege of our times together as the Richborough Family.
But there is also a lot to encourage and sustain us till life returns to relative normality, not least the broadcast of Her Majesty the Queen in response to the current outbreak. I have watched it several times, and for me at least, those five hundred and twenty two words have proved a helpful template in navigating a way through this complex and uncertain time.
Recent advances in communication have certainly come into their own during the lockdown and apart from television and the radio, many of us are using our phones and computers to keep abreast of the news and to keep in touch with one another. Who would have thought that so many of us would now be proficient in skype, zoom and streaming! The downside to this, of course, is that while those less familiar with modern technology feel a bit left out, others are suffering from information overload. Thankfully, what has certainly come back into fashion is the telephone and I’ve enjoyed chatting and catching up with friends and colleagues for longer than I’d normally have time for. I’ve even phoned a few people to see how they are that have long been relegated to the annual Christmas card.
This Lent and Holy Week it has also been inspiring and humbling to hear about the ways our clergy and lay folk have risen with imagination and ingenuity to the challenge of maintaining and sharing prayer and worship. This year our walk with Our Lord to the Cross has had a particular poignancy, as we recall his final journey to Jerusalem, vulnerable and afraid of what lay ahead.
I think we are all rediscovering that it is in the simple things, the kindly word, the offers of help and the holding one another in prayer, that we best and most naturally live out our faith. And I hope that when this crisis is over, rather than immediately engaging in frenetic activity, we all take time to savour and appreciate the privilege of worship, the sacramental life and fellowship one with another.
It is a truism to say that the landscape will have changed. The landscape is always changing, and the pandemic will inevitably take its toll. Economically we may be weaker but as a society we may well be stronger. From the clapping in our streets on Thursday evenings and recognising the need for neighbourly care, to breathing space for the environment and in a greater understanding of the implications of globalisation, hopefully lessons will be learned.
Towards the end of her address to the nation, Queen Elizabeth summed up her message with these words.
‘This is a time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour,
using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal.
We will succeed- and that success will belong to every one of us’.
‘We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again’.
Perhaps it was only me, but while the commentators were suggesting echoes of Vera Lynn and the wartime spirit as the Queen ended the broadcast, I heard in her words the testimony of a life long committed Christian, offering to us a strong and powerful proclamation of the Resurrection.
Three times Her Majesty said ‘again’, confidently and with conviction, in the knowledge that in Christ both here and in heaven we will always be with our friends, we will always be with our families and most certainly we will meet again.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
With Easter Blessings,
Whilst this Holy Week will be an odd one, the normal pattern of worship will be maintained. All services will be held in the Clergy House but live streamed to the parish Facebook Page.
Procession and Mass 11.30am
Monday of Holy Week
Tuesday of Holy Week
Wednesday of Holy Week
Stations of the Cross 7pm
Mass of the Lord’s Supper & Watch 8pm
Stations of the Cross 10am
Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion 3pm
The Easter Vigil 8pm
Sunday school 10am (Invitation only for safeguarding)
Mass of Easter Day 11.30am
As most of you will be aware the current public health emergency means that St John’s Church is closed. We have made this decision with a very heavy heart and on the strict instructions of the Bishops. We had hoped to continue to live stream Masses from the Church during this period, but this, unfortunately, has also been banned by the Bishop off Rochester under threat of discipline. Mass continues to be offered daily in the Clergy House and is available to watch live and recorded on facebook. During this time we are particularly praying for the NHS, the Government and all affected by this crisis in our Parish. Please do contact us if you would like us to pray for you in particular.
With best wishes
Fr Robin Jones
St John the Baptist, Sevenoaks
The Clergy House
62 Quakers Hall Lane
01732 451 710