Weekly News 26th March 2020 - COVID19 Update
Each of us will be acutely aware of the change to normal life currently being experienced throughout the country and around the world. The situation, and its accompanying restrictions, continue to evolve. Since last week we have had to close the church building. But, as the message on the website front page declares: “The building is closed, but Church is not shut!” Thanks to a lot of hard work and timely organisation, the Church office is open and staffed from home, so that people can be in touch, especially if they want to ask for help or update about the situation of someone they know. All members are of course encouraged to pray for, and stay in touch with each other, to offer the friendship and support that will prove so vital in these unusual times.
A lovely illustration of what church means to people came via the many messages received after last Sunday’s inaugural live streamed service. Again, this new venture was thanks to the determination and professionalism of several people who established the technology so swiftly. We know the service was watched in America, Australia and Japan and quite a few places closer to Pont Street! Lots of people remarked how they felt brought closer together at this difficult time. As one watcher remarked: It was good to think of everyone in their virtual pews “attending.”
Another reflected: “I wanted to let you know how much it meant to me to able to watch the live stream this morning. I have been self-isolating because I have under lying health conditions and was missing going to Church. Although it is so very sad that the Churches have to close it is wonderful that we can watch the service from home. I felt I was actually in the Church with you all. It will bring us all such great comfort and feel connected in these worrying times.”
And another: “I felt so many people around me. The light from the rose window on the wall was just so beautiful and the music was lovely and so fitting. There will be light at the end of the tunnel!”
With a final less intended consequence: “One word of caution, if it becomes too regular it could become habit forming and therefore prevent the 70 miles round trip on a Sunday!!!”
We fully intend to live stream this week’s service. We are unlikely to have a soloist this week but Ben will play the hymns and the words are at the end of this e- newsletter. Feel free to join in from the comfort of your front room!
Below is a digest of information and advice as things stand:
From Monday 23rd March the Church Office will be staffed from home.
Office Hours 9am to 4pm.
Contact details remain
Tel: 020 7584 2321
Pastoral Emergency Number (out of office hours): 07591926271
Live Streaming of Worship, Sunday 11am
It is our intention to live stream an act of worship from St Columba’s, Pont Street, at 11am on Sunday 29th March (Passion Sunday) led by the Minister. This can be watched via the church website, www.stcolumbas.org.uk at 11am. To access the live stream click the Menu button in the top right hand side of the page and scroll down and click on “Live Stream”. This will bring up the live stream to the church. The act of worship of approximately 30 minutes, will include prayers, a sermon and music. (Note: This will not be public worship that everyone can attend, but an offering of prayer and praise, on behalf of us all.) Unfortunately, this week we will not be able to offer a soloist for the music. The words for the hymns will be on the website.
The St Columba’s professional choir have recorded some Eastertide music for all to enjoy. You can find these on our website www.stcolumbas.org.uk, just click menu in the top right hand corner, click on Worship and then Hymns.
The Sunday Night Shelter, was open on Sunday 22nd March for the last time this season. Our thanks go to all the volunteers who have made another season of vital hospitality available to our guests.
Restart will continue to run on Friday in a slightly modified format, giving guests a hot meal and drink to take away between 5.30pm and 7.30pm. Guests will be invited to leave their contact details with the volunteers so they can be contacted through the week to check on them.
Maintaining Community and Supporting Each Other
Everybody can play a part in maintaining contact with others via telephone, e-mail or letter, especially those who are particularly vulnerable. Our Elders are encouraged to make contact with those in their districts, and church members are welcome to contact the church office to request a contact from their elder or the Minister.
Congregational Offerings & Lent Appeal
Every organisation and household will be affected by the current economic and social disruption. While we are unable to meet for worship and cannot allow groups to hire and meet in our facilities, we have to maintain the building and meet ongoing, significant financial commitments for the wider Church of Scotland. Please consider your offerings to the ongoing work of St Columba’s.
Bank details are as follows:-
Account - St Columba’s Church of Scotland No. 2 A/C
Sort code – 16 00 42
Account number – 00264741
If you would like to make a contribution to our Lent Appeal, 500 Miles (https://www.500miles.co.uk/). Please use the same bank details but make the description “Lent Appeal” or “LA” or if you decide to post a cheque please make sure it is clear in your cover note, it is for the Lent Appeal. The charity received an incredibly generous donation from an anonymous St Columba’s donor this week. There is a wonderful video all about the charity and the founder Olivia to watch here https://www.scotland.org/about-scotland/our-people/people-films/olivia-giles Thank you.
What can we do?
Stay in Contact: As disciples of Christ we are called to be faithful – both in times of plenty, and in time of crisis. How might we do that? By maintaining perspective, appreciating what we have, remaining prayerful and in looking out for the needs of others, particularly those feeling vulnerable and isolated. “Physically distanced but socially engaged” is a good maxim for meaningful communication and support. Telephone calls, a note, an e-mail, a check to make sure someone has food – all these will help .
The Gift of Prayer: “Pray with them sometimes; pray for them always.” This was the advice given to military chaplains about soldiers, in WWI – recognition that the church goes where the people are, and recognition that we can hold others in prayer, and in turn be held, even when apart. So, we can pray for all who are ill, all who offer medical and emotional support, all who carry heavy duties and responsibilities and all who grieve
Prayers in Time of the Corona Virus
We pray for this pandemic spreading across our world, remembering all who have lost loved ones. and praying for those seriously ill at this time.
We uphold the National Health Service. We pray for doctors and nurses and all in the caring professions, and all who support them. Those trying to understand this virus better. working to create an effective remedy.
We pray for our Governments in Westminster and Holyrood, as they work with the best medical advice, to guide us on how we should respond, and what action we should take. We pray that these guidelines might be taken seriously. and that all would put them into action.
We remember those who cannot visit loved ones in locked-down care homes; Help us to find ways of keeping in touch and offering reassurance. to those with underlying health issues; for any who feel particularly vulnerable or in danger at present.
We pray for those who have been laid off as their work disappears; for financial hardship for individuals and businesses; for those making contingency planning for home-based work or child care or exams. May our inconvenience not blind us to others’ loss.
May this crisis bring out the best in us, not the worst. Help us to live by faith and not by fear.
God who in Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart; bring hope and courage to all who wait or work in uncertainty. Bring hope that you will make us the equal of whatever lies ahead. Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided, knowing your will is health and wholeness; for you are God, and we need you.
[Adapted from New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 765]
The Lord bless you and keep you,
25th March 2020
Note: All details and arrangements are subject to change in the light of new advice. Flexibility and good humour will be key!
Hymns for Sunday 29th March, 2020 St Columba’s, Pont Street
Hymn 87 (Tune: Martyrdom)
1 Lord, from the depths to thee I cried.
My voice, Lord, do thou hear:
unto my supplications' voice
give an attentive ear.
2 Lord, who shall stand, if thou, O Lord,
should'st mark iniquity?
But yet with thee forgiveness is,
that feared though mayest be.
3 I wait for God, my soul doth wait,
my hope is in his word.
More than they that for morning watch,
my soul waits for the Lord;
4 I say, more than they that do watch
the morning light to see.
Let Israel hope in God the Lord,
for with him mercies be;
5 And plenteous redemption
is ever found with him.
And from all their iniquities
he Israel shall redeem.
Hymn 495 (Tune: Song 22)
1 Spirit of God, who dwells within my heart,
wean it from sin, through all its pulses move.
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as you are,
and make me love you as I ought to love.
2 I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
no sudden rending of the veil of clay,
no angel visitant, no opening skies;
but take the dimness of my soul away.
3 Did you not bid us love you, God and King,
love you with all our heart and strength and mind?
I see the cross there teach my heart to cling.
O let me seek you and O let me find!
4 Teach me to feel that you are always nigh;
teach me the struggles of the soul to bear,
to check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh;
teach me the patience of unceasing prayer.
5 Teach me to love you as your angels love,
one holy passion filling all my frame:
the fullness of the heaven-descended Dove;
my heart an altar, and your love the flame.
Hymn 535 (Tune: Monk’s Gate)
1 Who would valiant be 'against all disaster,
let him in constancy follow the Master.
There's no discouragement shall make him once relent
his first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.
2 Who so beset him round with dismal stories,
do but themselves confound--his strength the more is.
No foes shall stay his might, though he with giants fight;
he will make good his right to be a pilgrim.
3 Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit
we know we at the end shall life inherit.
Then, fancies, flee away! I'll fear not what men say,
I'll labour night and day to be a pilgrim.