Christmas Parish Update - 22nd December 2020
Dear all, The past week has been incredibly tough. First came the news that we were enter into Tier 3. Second came the news that we were to enter the new Tier 4 and that any Christmas plans we had would have to be abandoned. The rapid, out of control spread of the new strain of Covid-19 is frightening. Even though the vaccines have brought us hope of an eventual return to ‘normality’, it seems highly likely that these new measures will continue well into 2021 and that they may even have to be toughened. This brings a dark end to what has already been a dark year. A real glimmer of light is that for the time being, places of worship can continue to open in Tier 4. This means that our Christmas services will go ahead as planned in all three of our churches. If you have not yet booked a place, please do so as soon as possible. As all of you who have been to church recently, we have worked hard in recent months to make sure that our churches are as Covid-secure as we possibly can so that we can worship together in a safe environment. We should all, however, recognise that there is a significantly heightened risk of infection at this time. If you are in a vulnerable group, you should give serious consideration about attending a service. If you do not feel safe about coming to church, you should not feel compelled to do so. To paraphrase Chris Whitty, just because you can go to church does not mean that you should. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, who chairs the Church of England’s Covid Recovery Group, said the following in a statement following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday evening: We know that public worship – both in person and through remote means – has brought comfort, hope and inspiration to so many. So we are grateful that, even in Tier Four, church buildings can be open this Christmas. But we urge everyone to take precautions and, especially for those in Tier Four, to be exceptionally careful. Even though attending public worship is permitted, many people may feel it is currently better they do not do so. […] At this time of year - even this year - we celebrate the birth of Jesus with joy and hope. Jesus cames to bring light that shines in the darkness. We need that light now and always. As we enter into this contradictory time of increasing darkness in our lives and great light as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, here is a Litany for the Darkness of Waiting by Janet Morley:
For the darkness of waiting of not knowing what is to come of staying ready and quiet and attentive, we praise you, O God: For the darkness and the light are both alike to you. For the darkness of staying silent for the terror of having nothing to say and for the greater terror of needing to say nothing, we praise you, O God: For the darkness and the light are both alike to you. For the darkness of loving in which it is safe to surrender to let go of our self-protection and to stop holding back our desire, we praise you, O God: For the darkness and the light are both alike to you.
For the darkness of choosing when you give us the moment to speak, and act, and change, and we cannot know what we have set in motion, but we still have to take the risk, we praise you, O God: For the darkness and the light are both alike to you. For the darkness of hoping in a world which longs for you, for the wrestling and labouring of all creation for wholeness and justice and freedom, we praise you, O God. For the darkness and the light Are both alike to you. From ‘All Desires Known’ (Janet Morley, SPCK, 1988)
With love and prayers to you all this Christmas, and in hope that we will all find a glimpse of comfort and joy, however small.
The Reverend Dr Nicholas Peacock The Reverend Beth Lewis
Team Rector Team Vicar
Comfort and Joy
The Church of England has produced a wide range of reflections and services for this Christmas called ‘Comfort and Joy’. Information about this can be found on their website - https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/preparing-advent-christmas-2020-comfort-and-joy
Christmas Services 2020
Our services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are as follows:
Crib Service – Christmas Eve from 3pm
A telling of the Christmas story for families with carols sung by member of our choir. Pre-recorded and available on YouTube only from 3pm.
The First Eucharist of Christmas – Christmas Eve at 6.30pm and 11.30pm
Two ‘sittings’ of a simpler, but traditional Midnight Mass. Booking required to attend in person. Also available on YouTube at 11.30pm.
Christmas Morning Eucharist – Christmas Day at 9.30am
A Christmas morning celebration – bring the family! Booking required to attend in person. Also available on YouTube.
To book for services at St Dunstan’s, please contact the Parish Office
(07928 833324 / firstname.lastname@example.org)
The First Communion of Christmas – Christmas Eve at 11.30pm
A simple, but traditional Midnight Mass. Booking required to attend in person.
Christmas Morning Eucharist – Christmas Day at 10.00am
A Christmas morning celebration! St Oswald’s will also be open for private prayer from 1.00pm-4.00pm on Christmas Eve.
To book for services at St Oswald’s, please fill in the form (click here)
The First Communion of Christmas – Christmas Eve at 6.30pm
An earlier celebration of ‘Midnight Mass’. Booking required to attend in person.
Christmas Morning Eucharist – Christmas Day at 10.45am
A Christmas morning celebration! St Alban’s will also be open for private prayer from 1.00pm-4.00pm on Christmas Eve.
To book for services at Alban’s, please fill in the form (click here)
As long as we are permitted under government guidelines, we will continue to follow the pattern of worship we have used since the summer. Please be aware that this will be subject to regular reviews and could change with short notice.
Parish Eucharist: Sundays at 9.30am (also livestreamed on YouTube with the exception of 27th December and 3rd January)
Midweek Eucharist: Wednesdays at 11.00am (with the exception of 30th December)
Eucharist: 10.00am on Sundays 3rd, 17th, and 31st January
Service of the Word: 10.00am on Sundays 27th December, 10th and 24th January
Eucharist: 10.45am on Sundays 27th December, 10th and 24th January
Open for Private Prayer: 10.30am-11.00am on Sundays 3rd, 17th, and 31st January
We have limited capacity in our churches due to social distancing. We don’t want to turn anyone away, but to be sure of a place at one of our services, please contact:
St Dunstan’s: The Parish Office (07928 833324 / email@example.com)
St Oswald’s: Bryan Hopper (07787 755142 / firstname.lastname@example.org)
St Alban’s: Carol and John Adams (07504 442279)
For those who are unable to attend, other than our own weekly online service, we recommend:
The Church of England weekly worship, available online each Sunday here.
Worship broadcast from Southwark Cathedral, details of which can be found here.
The ‘Daily Hope’ phoneline (0800 804 8044), which has been set up specifically for those unable to join online services.
Family Service at St Dunstan’s
We held out first two family services at St Dunstan’s in October and November. This is a short, relaxed service in a ‘shush free’ zone in which making noise really doesn’t matter!
We have planned three more family services at 11.15am on 17th January, 21st February, and 21st March. To be sure of a place, please contact the Parish Office.
If you would like us to pray for someone or something, please email the office. We will compile a weekly prayer list to be used at our services. For reasons of privacy, we will use first names only and the person for whom you are asking us to pray should be happy for you to do this.
Post-Christmas Leave and Office Closure
Nick will be on leave from Monday 28th December to Monday 4th January inclusive.
Beth will be on leave from Saturday 26th December to Saturday 2nd January inclusive.
The Parish Office will be closed from lunchtime on Christmas Eve, opening again on Monday 12th January.