A message from Rev John Rainer, Vicar of St Peter’s
Over the past few days our news has been dominated by events in Ukraine, and the arrival of a situation which all of us hoped would not occur during our lifetimes and those of our children. At the very moment that we seemed to be emerging from a very serious and lengthy public health crisis, we have been plunged into a political crisis, the like of which has not been seen since the end of World War Two in 1945.
A lot has been said and written already by Christians and Christian leaders about our response to current events. I encourage all of you to read Bishop Nick’s message published recently in the Yorkshire Post, which can also be found easily on the Diocesan website, www.leeds.anglican.org
All I would want to add to this is the observation that parts of the Bible deal with the consequences and effects of times of war and deep societal unrest. One of the key readings each Remembrance Sunday, when we recall the sacrifices made in wartime, is Psalm 46. This psalm talks about God being our refuge at times when nations are in turmoil. The context of the famous command to God’s people to ‘Be still and know that I am God’ (Ps. 46.11) is in fact a time not unlike our own. Amidst our apparent powerlessness in the face of forces we cannot control, we can draw strength simply from knowing that ‘The Lord of Hosts is with us’.
For almost two years now we have lived with a raft of restrictions designed to protect us from various waves of the Covid 19 virus. Thankfully, these restrictions are now beginning to be eased, and the Staff now feel that the time has come to cautiously and carefully towards easing some of the measures we have had in place in church. It is no longer mandatory to wear a face covering in an indoor environment such as church; so at St Peter’s the wearing of face coverings is now optional. However, you may feel that continuing to wear one is the best way of protecting others and we would ask you to consider doing so if you are able.
As far as the conduct of services goes, we would encourage you to continue with the more restrained version of the Peace which we have got used to and to be aware of the sensitivities of others and that many will still feel nervous and uncomfortable in groups of people. We will continue to make hand sanitiser available on entry and exit to the building and would ask you to use it as general good hygiene.
At Communion we are going to move step by step back to what we were familiar with in pre-Covid times. During the receiving of communion there will now be chalices available at the front of church: please do not try to drink directly from these but if you wish to dip your piece of bread into the wine, you may now do so. I would also like to stress that this isn’t compulsory if you feel uncomfortable – it’s quite acceptable to receive communion in one kind only. When Easter arrives in April – provided there are no further setbacks in the pandemic situation – we will restore our Communion services to the way they were prior to Covid. I will explain all this in services as we move forward.
Have a look on our website here to find out more about activities arranged for Lent, including Saturday morning Lent Sessions at St Peter’s, Take Time Meditations with Helen Scott and, for the first time in several years, Shipley Christians Together are offering Lent Meetings. You are encouraged to support these on Wednesday evenings between 6 and 7pm, including a simple meal of soup and bread, followed by a short talk.
Wednesday 16th March 6.00pm Northcliffe Church; led by Rhona North on the development of Shipley centre
Wednesday 23rd of March 6.00pm Saltaire Methodist Church; reflections on Lent.
Wednesday 30th of March 6.00pm St Peters; progress update on SCT CAP Debt Centre led by Thomas Knight
Wednesday 6th of April 6.00pm St Walburga’s; topic TBC
Wednesday 13th April 6.00pm Christchurch Windhill; topic TBC
With love and prayers,
A Prayer for Ukraine from Tear Fund
God of peace,
We pray for worried mothers and fathers.
We pray for frightened children.
We pray for people who cannot flee,
And for those who are running for their lives.
Bring comfort, safety and provision, O God.
We pray for those reaching out to help the vulnerable.
We pray for leaders on both sides.
We pray for a world that seems darker today.
Bring wisdom, calm and compassion, O God,
And let your light shine on the people of Ukraine.
May there be an immediate end to the conflict,
And lasting peace.
In Jesus’ name we pray.