Never in my life did I think there would come a time when it was my priestly duty to tell people to stay away from the church, but so it has become.
A notice went up on the door of St Magnus last Wednesday advising people that the church building was closed until further notice for public worship, private prayer and tourist visiting.
After a rather ambiguous directive from the two Archbishops that public worship should be suspended but that churches may be open for private prayer, and some ingenious suggestions of how to circumvent the prohibition, Bp Jonathan has made it plain that any celebrations of the mass must be in private, which I take to be the celebrant and a server behind closed doors. We're going to try this on Sunday at 11.00 am, but with the addition of a camera operator to stream it out through our FB page.
On the day when the introit enjoins us , 'Rejoice, O Jerusalem and come together all ye that love her' and continuing 'I was glad when they said unto me, We will go into the house of the Lord', it will be bitter in the knowledge that this is something we cannot do. We cannot come together in the house of the Lord, as is our custom every Sunday. But someone yesterday said to me rather more earthily, 'Get up there and wear that pink!' So if you care to search for our church Facebook page any time from 11am on Sunday, I hope this is what you might see, a Mass offered for you pthe people, even if you are yourselves absent.
As we are frequently reminded, the situation regarding this virus, and the steps taken to contain it changes daily, and sometimes unexpectedly. It may be that some churches of our tradition in London will be offering a public mass, and if you feel you can safely attend, then that is for you to decide. Meanwhile, we will be trying our level best to see how and what we might do to celebrate the Queen of Feasts.
Meanwhile, don't forget on Sunday evening at 7.00 pm to place a lighted candle inside a window of your house so that it can be seen by those outside. A small symbol of Christ, the light of the world, a light which no darkness can overcome.
Pray also in the words of Psalm 91, which many of you will know from the office of Compline. It is not a talisman nor is it a magical cure, but a statement of faith. "I will say unto the Lord, Thou art my hope, and my strong hold; my God, in him will I trust."
Out of sight does not mean out of mind, and you shall all remain in my prayers. If you want to speak by phone or email, you have my contacts, and if likewise you wish to encourage me during these perplexing times, then that would be welcome too.
As long as I remain healthy, I am happy to meet individually in my study at St Magnus, maintaining of course he appropriate social distance! By appointment, please.
God bless you all,