A message from Rev John Rainer, Vicar of St Peter’s
This year we have been looking forward to celebrating Christmas without the restrictions which made life so difficult a year ago. In the last few days the national and international situation has been confused by the arrival of the omicron variant, bringing renewed uncertainty at the worst possible moment, and enforced changes of plan for many people.
As far as church is concerned, new regulations have been published in the last few days by the Church of England. At St Peter’s we have been taking a fairly cautious approach to the relaxing of restrictions; I am pleased to be able to say that the latest regulations do not contain anything which would lead us to backtrack on anything we have done. The present service pattern will continue, but we will be continuing with measures to prevent infection as far as possible. The wearing of facemasks for all except those leading services is encouraged, and we will be making sure that the building is well ventilated at all times. A limited amount of congregational singing can continue, but for the time being Holy Communion will only involve the sharing of bread. Refreshments will continue to be served on most Sundays. However, we would ask all of you to be respectful of those who continue to have concerns about socialising, distancing in services, and the sharing of the Peace.
I would like everyone to be assured that the Staff continue to monitor the situation very closely. As soon as it becomes possible to lift restrictions further, we will seek to do so whilst ensuring that our premises remain as safe as possible. I would like to thank the Staff and Wardens in particular for their efforts in overseeing this during the past year, especially in dealing with niggly problems which have occurred in the course of opening up – we all owe them an immense debt of gratitude.
In the midst of all this we have had to make plans for Christmas with a series of options in case the national situation changes! The present plans are as follows :-
On Sunday 12th December, Messy Church will be celebrating Messy Christmas for all ages at 3.30pm. Rachel, Jessica and the other leaders would still be pleased to hear from you if you can offer assistance.
On Sunday 19th December we will be trying out a new idea for the Carol Service which involves all ages and seeks to build on the success of last year’s service in the car park when indoor worship was severely restricted. At 3.30pm (weather permitting!) we intend to gather in the car park for carol singing, with the accompaniment of mulled wine and mince pies. (This will happen indoors if the weather isn’t reasonable). At 4.00pm we will move into the church for some further carol singing, prayer and dramatic interludes for all ages.
On Christmas Eve, the Crib Service will take place as usual at 4.00pm. The service of Communion at 11.30pm, as it was last year, will take place online only.
On Christmas Day there will be a service at 10.30 am for all ages followed by a shortened service of Holy Communion for those who wish to stay.
December 26th is a Sunday this year: however, there will not be a church service on that day at St Peter’s; a short online service will be available on that morning.
If any of these arrangements need to be changed we will let you know as soon as possible. I hope that within the current public health restrictions, what we have on offer will allow us to celebrate Christmas much more fully than we were able to last year.
Above all, let us keep Jesus Christ at the centre of Christmas. Let us use the season of Advent to clear away the obstacles which so often get in the way of us encountering God as we should. We know that the culture around us is increasingly trying to obscure the real reason for this season. Instead let us remember that we have a message about celebrating the birth of a King who can transform lives and who is calling us to build his new kingdom of peace, wholeness and joy.
With love and prayers,
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen