Churches in this Benefice follow the C of E safeguarding policy

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Letter for May  2020                 
Dear friends     
As I write this letter, like so many I am on a self-imposed lock down with Joy. Due to our age and medical problems, that puts us both at risk. So many, like us are following the guidelines and doing the right thing. How the normality of life has changed in such a short space of time. For all of us, the current pandemic is a time of great uncertainty. We are concerned for those we love, for our own health, and for our wider society. We will almost certainly all experience sadness, inconvenience and financial loss, at the very least. For some, this uncertainty is causing great anxiety. 
Having faith in God is not a ’get out of jail free’ card. Christians are no different from anyone else in the challenges that we face.  Many of those who worship regularly are finding new ways of ‘gathering’ to worship using technology. In our benefice we have enjoyed services streamed from the church and from the home of Sue Tarran the priest overseeing the care of our parishes during the vacancy. Our Easter services were similar, and Sarah (Gilston & Eastwick) churchwarden streamed several of ‘The Holy week’ services from her home. On Facebook for the technological ones amongst us St. Albans Abbey are streaming services we can all share.  Many other things have had to be cancelled, especially ‘MESSY CHURCH’, enjoyed so much by the children, but the situation has dictated the state of play! 
No doubt this may be the norm for the time being, technology being our communication channel. So even if we are physically separated it doesn’t stop us from being the ‘church’ the church was never intended to be the building, but the people of God. 
One of the strengths of the Christian faith is that it teaches us of a God who ’knows the end from the beginning’ and so is surprised at nothing. The bible assures us that God is always with his people no matter what they are going through. It also promises Christians that when our lives end – be it sooner or later – we will gain a new body that can never be destroyed, and we will be with God in a place where there is no more mourning or crying or pain. God became human to share in our ups and downs, our human frailty, our sorrows and our mortality. He understands what we are going through. 
So, what does it mean to truly love our neighbour as the bible teaches us in this new situation? We will need to practice the virtues of generosity, open heartedness and caring for the weak and vulnerable.  Attentive to those who are isolated, scared and at risk in other ways. Restrained in our grocery shopping and thoughtful towards those who are unable to shop for themselves in the days ahead. We must obey the government and take seriously the measures that we are being urged to adopt for everyone’s safety, by observing these measures we protect ourselves and help to protect the most vulnerable in our society. 
The response to this coronavirus by so many organisations is to help, to nurse, to provide protection for those in the front line, those ensuring the vulnerable are fed and sheltered, all our medical staff, carers, volunteers, police, fire, ambulance, school teacher who are caring for workers children and all in distribution, all providing the necessary needs for those affected in any way by this worldwide infection is beyond imagination. For their efforts and dedication to others, often putting themselves at risk, we are all extremely grateful and applaud them whole heartedly with our sincere thanks. 
By the time you are reading my letter much will have changed, and many lives lost, but we must remain strong and uplifted in the knowledge that many will recover, and that life will go on. 
Many of you will have spent time alone and isolated and I hope you will be in contact by letter or telephone with others, that’s something we can all do ‘keep in touch’ with each other. 
Please remember we may not all be in a position to give practical help at this time  but we can all share in prayer and I offer the words from Psalm 46 : God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. He says ‘Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Every Friday evening at 6’oclock we will join together to share the Grace and the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Life as we know it has changed significantly, but it will pass and we shall with God’s grace return to normality and continue to enjoy the love and beauty of His creation. With every blessing, prayerfully and Keep Safe. 
Roger  (Reader)