Churches should already be following best-hygiene practices that include advising parishioners with coughs and sneezes to refrain from handshaking during The Peace and to receive Communion in one kind only.
At present, there is no Government advice that suggests the use of the Common Cup should be suspended.
It is also best practice for churches to have hand-sanitisers available for parishioners to use.
In addition, priests presiding at the Eucharist, communion administrators and servers should wash their hands, preferably with an alcohol-based (minimum 60%) hand-sanitiser.
Intinction is not recommended (even by celebrants or communion-administrators) as this represents an infection transmission route.
As part of our effort to do something special in Lent, we always have a Lent course. This gives us the chance to study the bible or aspects of the Christian faith together.
This year we are going to study the early stories of the bible. We will begin with the creation story. Many Christians will not take this literally. They will be quite happy with evolutionary theory to explain human origins. But how then are we to understand the biblical story? Then there is the story of the fall. Adam and Eve listening to the serpent. How does this story help us to understand the existence of sin and evil in the world? What do we make of the tower of Babel? Or Noah? Just fun stories for children not to be taken too seriously? Or stories with a wisdom that we can well learn from?
The course will take place for five Wednesdays at 7.30 pm in church. It cannot be in the Barn because of restoration work there. So it will take place in church beginning on Wednesday 4th March. Do please join us.
- 4th March: Creation
- 11th March: Fall
- 18th March: Noah’s Ark
- 25th March: Tower of Babel
- 1st April: Exodus
The word ‘passion’ is used to express very strong emotion, enthusiasm, and intense love. It also means to endure, undergo, experience, with particular reference to suffering. And so we speak of the passion of Jesus Christ, by which we mean his suffering. The different uses of this word ‘passion’ are linked. When we have intense love, it is an experience that takes hold of us, that we don’t control. And some ways it involves suffering.
And for Christians love and suffering are particularly linked. Jesus Christ suffers in his life and in his death because of his great love for us. God’s love for us leads to his willingness to suffer with us and for us in Jesus Christ. God’s compassion leads to the passion of Jesus Christ.
The last two weeks of Lent, the fifth and sixth Sundays of Lent, are called Passiontide. During that time, starting this year on 29th March, Lent changes gear and we particularly remember the events of Good Friday.
Why is it that the passion of Jesus Christ is so important in the Christian faith? Why is the cross so central? Because in the cross we see a meeting point between the unconquerable love of God and the sin and wickedness of humanity. At the cross we see hatred and evil torturing to death a man of goodness and love. And we see, in that man, God’s love continuing to shine through despite all the evil that is done to him. At the cross, God’s love conquers. That is why we call this particular Friday ‘Good’.
It is normal for the Bishop to visit the churches and parishes of the diocese. And congregations look forward to welcoming their chief pastor. The Bishop of Derby, the Right Reverend Libby Lane, has offered to visit Saint Giles on Pentecost Sunday, 31st May, for the 9.30 am Sung Eucharist.
After discussion, Bishop Libby and I have agreed that the Bishop will preside at the Eucharist as well as preach. It is an honour that Bishop Libby is coming to Saint Giles at Pentecost. Pentecost, together with Easter and Christmas, is one of the three great festivals of the church’s year. Do please put this date in your diary and make a point of joining with us that morning.
The congregations at Dethick, Lea and Holloway are cancelling their service that day so that they can join with us. And afterwards we will have some light refreshments together.
I would imagine that a lot of people would like to join us at the 9.30 Sung Eucharist. However, should you require an earlier Eucharist for one reason or another, I will as usual be taking the normal 8 am Eucharist.
With every good wish from Mark Crowther-Alwyn
Lovely to see families there and also to celebrate Bree’s first Holy Communion. With thanks to Jason and Colin for the photographs.
Vast areas of our world are desert. More or less empty spaces where little grows and even less goes on. Interestingly, the Christian story has a lot to do with deserts. The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years. Moses encountered God in the desert, first in the burning bush and then on the mountain. So did Elijah. And, most important of all, Jesus spent forty days in the desert at the start of his ministry.
The desert is an empty space where there are few distractions and where we come face to face with ourselves and the quest for love, truth, goodness and God. A place where we learn to breathe again away from all the pressures that make life such a rush and such a noise. In the early centuries of the church, once the Christian faith became popular, there were many who left to live in the desert because they felt the church had betrayed its calling and they wished to renew their spiritual journey away from distraction. These ‘desert fathers’ were the ancestors of the Christian monastic life.
Most of us cannot go out into the wilderness to be alone with God. But in the church’s year there are certain seasons where we are encouraged to imitate Jesus in his desert experience. Advent, the time before Christmas, is traditionally one of these. So is Lent, the season of preparation for Easter. Times when we are encouraged to put aside some of the distractions of life and concentrate on what really matters. Times when we begin to face the void within us, the void where God speaks.
This year Lent begins on 26th February, Ash Wednesday. Traditionally there are three pillars of Lent. Three essential ingredients of Lent. These are prayer, fasting and works of mercy. We are invited to deepen our life of prayer and meditation. To get back to the disciplines of regular prayer, worship and bible reading. We are also invited to fast. Not primarily in order to improve our physical appearance or health but in order to concentrate more on the things of the soul than the body. But fasting need not always be about food or drink. Nowadays we are often addicted to our phones or emails or social media or the news. A good Lent discipline would be to restrict our online habits! Works of mercy. Are we giving enough to those who have less than us or to other important causes? Are we living charitably with others? Lent is a good time to rediscover the importance of acts of charity in the Christian life.
With every good wish from Mark Crowther-Alwyn