19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”. John 20
Jesus came to where the disciples were; they were in a place of fear. Through his presence he brought peace and renewed their purpose. And into our lives today, Jesus comes to do the same.
We are now in a place where the human response to this crisis is fear, or if not fear, complete bewilderment as to how we and our loved ones are going to cope with the unknown times ahead.
As a nation we are in time of crisis. Yet in the New Testament, the word for crisis can also be translated as ‘opportunity’. Having met this morning with other leaders in our church, I was deeply encouraged that the Lord is inspiring us to take the new opportunities that are opening up, and to be aware of the presence and peace of the risen Lord, listening again for his purpose for us as his people in this place at this time.
Over the coming days we will be communicating more of the possibilities to pray and to serve one another and the wider community but the big change that has been announced by the Church of England is that all church services and gatherings/meetings/activities will not be able to take place with immediate effect. We are in a new reality! However, we are still the same Christ Church family, with the same vision and the same values, only we will need to learn to be church differently.
So this Sunday morning we hope to broadcast a reflection and time of prayer which will be on our website and You Tube Channel. More details to follow. We also plan to create a regular ‘Thought for the Day’ from our own Christ Church team which will be available from 10.00 am each day.
Call to prayer
This Sunday, the Church of England has called the whole church to pray – for our nation, for those most vulnerable and for the witness of God’s people in our world. We are being encouraged to light a candle in our homes 7 pm, and of course give thanks for mothers. Our Christ Church team are developing ways to make this a ‘virtual’ time of prayer where we can be united as a church, participating from wherever we are.
There are many specific prayers and readings being produced by the Church of England which can be accessed on: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-liturgy-and-prayer-resources
Prayer Spaces in Church
Thankfully, the official guidance we have been given encourages churches to be open for prayer whenever possible and practical.
So we will be opening Christ Church for specific times of prayer and reflection for those who are safe to come and who are not in categories of those who must stay self-isolated. The emphasis will be on everyone taking personal responsibility by observing all the recommended protocols: washing hands thoroughly on arrival, keep at a distance of two metres from other people etc. We will need to limit the numbers to a maximum of 20 people at any one time. There will be some prayer stations set up for any who would value this opportunity.
The times from Monday 23rd March when the Church will be open are:
Monday 7- 9pm Tuesday 10-12am
Wed 7-9pm Thursday 10-12am
In the next few days we will be outlining ways that pastoral support can be taken forward as well as ideas for connecting with our neighbours. We will do all we can to keep everyone updated in this rapidly changing situation.
We are blessed to be part of a church where we are used to looking out for one another and looking up to Jesus for that which will sustain us deep within. There are indeed opportunities before us that we can’t yet imagine. Let us be open to all that the Lord wants us to learn about living his Risen Life in the days ahead with courage, compassion and confidence in Christ.
With our continued prayers,
Jo, Paul and the Christ Church Team