A weekly message during Lockdown from St Peter’s Vicar, Rev John Rainer
This week we have heard the news that Rev. Henriette Howarth, the priest in charge of our neighbouring parish, St Paul’s, is to stand down from 6th June after four years in post. Many of you will remember that several years ago she spoke at our church weekend away alongside Bishop Toby. So I would ask you to be praying for St Paul’s as it enters a period of vacancy, and for those who will carry extra responsibilities, especially Rev John Butler, Associate Priest. You may also know that there is already a vacancy at Christ Church Windhill, meaning that several churches in Shipley face an anxious time as we emerge from lockdown. It remains to be seen whether new appointments can be made quickly or whether the Diocese feels that it is time to review ministry in these parishes more radically. Our own Mike Moss, as Lay Chair of the Deanery, will be heavily involved in such discussions, and your prayers are asked for him as well in dealing with the Diocese.
At this time and in the foreseeable future we will certainly be encouraged to join together in shared activities with neighbouring churches where this is possible. At Easter in the past we have regularly done this through the activities of Shipley Christians Together, such as United Services and the March of Witness. This year that is not possible, but some less usual activities will be happening. We have been invited to join with St Paul’s and Windhill at a Zoom service in the evening of Maundy Thursday at 7.30pm (Details on the latest newsletter). Please join us if you can.
As Easter approaches we are taking steps to open St Peter’s for worship again. We are still constrained by public health considerations and social distancing for the time being, and so we have scheduled two half hour services on Good Friday from 2.00pm to 2.30pm and 2.30pm to 3.00pm. These services will be identical in content, because we have to limit numbers and you will need to book. You can do this either through the church website or by contacting Judith in the Office.
We are delighted to be able to open on Easter Sunday this year! However, we still have to limit numbers, and so we are offering two identical services of Holy Communion on Easter Sunday morning at 9.30am and 11.00am, with material for all ages in each. Again, booking is necessary. There won’t be an evening service in church but there will be material online. Rachel will be hosting an Easter Party for families in the afternoon, and at 6.30pm there will be an online service from Shipley Christians Together which some of us from St Peter’s have compiled.
Gift Day for the Hall Roof
Don’t forget that Easter is also our Gift Day for the essential repairs to our Hall roof. If you are a taxpayer, please ensure that we have your contact details so that we can reclaim the Gift Aid on your donation.
With the national vaccination programme going ahead, it is clear that we are looking at the lifting of many covid restrictions in the coming months. For the time being we need to continue to take care, remembering that many of our younger members will not have been vaccinated yet, and that some church activities are still restricted because of the risks involved. Even if we get to church, Easter is going to feel rather different this year, and this should not surprise us. Let us use this moment in the year when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord to encourage each other and to affirm that His kingdom is amongst us in power.
As St Peter’s reopens and we move towards a time when restrictions are removed I will be writing these letters to you less often, in confident hope that I will see many of you regularly face to face. In the meantime I wish you all a very happy and blessed holy week and Eastertime.
With love and prayers,
I give you thanks, for you are good, and your mercy is endless.
Here I stand, at the start of this holy week,
This week in which your church remembers Jesus’ passion and death,
And I am distracted by many things.
Turn my eyes now to the One who comes in your name
The one who opens the gates of righteousness
The one who answers when we call.
I bless you, Lord, for shining your light upon me,
And for sending your Son to us, in human frailty.
To walk the road we walk.
Open my eyes that I may see him coming,
And may praise him with a pure heart.
And may walk in the way of his suffering,
And share also in his resurrection.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.