In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Church of England has not only suspended all public gatherings for worship but, in line with the Government’s most recent regulations, our churches are now no longer open for private prayer and reflection, although we hope they will be soon.
That means that our church doors are closed for the foreseeable future.
There is no denying that this is a huge action to take, and one which I know many of us will also find a very sad one.
It is sad because firstly over these next few weeks Christians the world over celebrate the central festival of the Christian faith, which is Easter, and secondly because all year round our desire is to be here for the people of this community, and inspired by our Easter faith to publicly worship God and openly serve others.
There are however still ways in which we can be encouraged and supported in our prayer and spiritual life, as well as ‘keep in touch’ and support and care for one another.
Here at St James’ we are still making provision for that by:-
1. KEEPING CONNECTED TO GOD THROUGH PRAYER
The public announcements we have recently received about how we should seek to keep ourselves well over these coming weeks, includes the advice that those who can should still take their ‘daily exercise’.
For many of us, prayer too is a ‘daily exercise’, keeping our hearts and spirits working and well, keeping us connected with and open to God, and knowing that we can share with God, or leave with God, our anxieties and concerns at this time.
At the end of this message there are some prayers you may feel are helpful to use. If you would like to have emailed to you a form of Morning and Evening Prayer which some of us are using, as a way of being united in prayer, or if you would like to ask for others to pray for you or someone you are concerned about, then please email the Vicar, Rev’d Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, with your request.
2. KEEPING CONNECTED – AT A DISTANCE.
For those who have given us permission to contact them via email we will from time to time send out resources / ‘thoughts for the week’ type of communications (if you do not wish to receive these, or indeed if you would like to receive them but know we do not have your email, then please let us know).
3. KEEPING IN TOUCH – PASTORALLY.
Of course our primary concern for all whom we love, for our Church family and our Parish family is that all keep well; that any who are unwell are supported practically and prayerfully; and that others are offered comfort and friendship during uncertain and anxious times. To that end we will again endeavour to keep in touch with those known to us, but also hope you will keep in touch with one another and if you, or someone you know, is struggling and would value some support please let us know.
Please ring either the Vicar on 0113 264 2685 or our Pastoral Care Contact on 0113 260 4480.
St James’ Church is a community of Christian faith where together
we seek to be people of prayer, faith and compassion.
We do so trusting in the God we have come to know in Jesus Christ,
and whose love is faithful in all times and all circumstances.
“God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.”
With Love & Prayers – Rev’d Carolyn
Some Prayers for Personal Use:
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.
Help us to find strength in your comfort,
and to trust in your promise
that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Gracious God, give skill, compassion and resilience
to all who are caring for the sick,
and your wisdom to those searching for a cure.
Strengthen them with your Spirit,
that through their work
many will be restored to health.
A PRAYER FOR THE BEGINNING OF THE DAY
“The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes.
God is close to those who trust in him.” (Nahum 1.7)
Almighty and everlasting God,
we thank you that you have brought us safely to the beginning of this day.
Keep us from falling into sin or running into danger;
order us in all our doings and guide us to do always
what is righteous in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence,
O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you,
and with compassion for others; today and always. Amen.
A PRAYER AT NIGHT-TIME
Before the ending of the day,
Creator of the world, we pray;
that you, with steadfast love, would keep
Your watch around us while we sleep.
Tonight we pray especially for (name anyone known to you for whom you are particularly concerned)
and the people of (name any of those countries, communities, places presently affected by Coronavirus / in the headlines).
To your love and protection, we commit each other,
all whom we love, and all for whom we have prayed,
knowing that you alone are our sure defender,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.