Well, life just keeps getting more shocking doesn’t it? Today I have had to close the church building completely, the church site has been mostly empty, the streets are so quiet I don’t need the pedestrian crossing to cross over, and the shop I did have to go to was only letting set numbers of people in at any given time. It’s very bizarre – I read of someone saying this is the biggest national crisis since WW2. But, even then, the churches didn’t close. Not even I, as vicar, am allowed to go outside and across to church, despite living next door, so Sunday worship will be relayed from my study in the vicarage. It’s good to know that God doesn’t live in church but is here with me, with you, wherever we are, and our prayers are heard and taken on.

And we will still have Sunday worship, Altogether and at 10am, as planned weeks ago! We can still gather, albeit as people scattered across our community, albeit online or via DVD, albeit in our own homes and with only those we live with, or none. Poppy, my dog, may have to ‘come to church’ as it will be from here in the Vicarage that I lead us in worship. But it will still happen! Please do look for the links that Paul will post on the website and follow those to youtube (I think). We will, also, endeavour to send out a DVD to those who normally get the newsletter by post. If you hear of someone who wants a DVD but doesn’t get it then please encourage them to phone (0151 931 3119) and leave a message with their contact details so we have permission and the information to send a DVD out to them. We are still figuring out how to use the technology well and to the benefit of everyone. To that end we will pre-record Sunday worship, as live streaming is not possible for many in our congregation. We may live-stream at a later date in some way or another. Let us know what works or not, but please also remember that we are still figuring this out.

However, in the midst of all the logistics, in the midst of shock and slight panic, in the midst of fear for my loved ones and fear for our society, I have sat outside for lunch today, I have watched squirrels chasing in the tall trees in the garden, enjoyed the daffodils and the soft spring air, and helped Poppy to chase mice away. It’s a gorgeous day! Today is the day that God has made and I will rejoice in it! I will rejoice in the Lord my God! In the midst of this season of struggle and loss, let’s hold onto the fact that Jesus is Emmanuel. Jesus is God with us, God present and well, strong and mighty, our healer and redeemer, with whom we will live eternally.

It’s only a few short months since Christmas when we remembered and celebrated that Jesus is Emmanuel. As we live this lent in crisis, heading towards Easter, maybe this year more than ever we are called to learn the impact of sacrifice, of loss, of change and chance, of death and renewed life. Before resurrected life came death and loss for Jesus, and so with us; before the renewed life that we will have there will be significant sacrifice, loss and change for many of us. But Jesus is the one who brings new life, so we hold to him, and we let him be our restorer and healer. Don’t despair, this season will pass, and new life will blossom and flourish – look to the spring outside today to be reminded that sunshine and green shoots are always the answer to winter’s loss and darkness.

I will attempt to blog regularly for the time being and hope that this will bring a measure of stability and comfort. Please do respond and let’s keep talking. We do have telephone trees set up across St Luke’s with our amazing Pastoral Care leaders and team making that happen. If you know of someone who needs connecting in then, with their permission, pass on their details and we will connect them in to our networks – our office phone and email are regular checked and answered. Stay connected with others, keep talking, and remember you are the well loved people of God, with whom you will never lose contact.

And for those who need a laugh – possibly the best thing for us right now (courtesy of Verna from St Michael’s)…

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