#304: Just a flesh wound, said the Black Knight… or was it the Prime Minister

[Cefalu, Sicily]

Hello again, dear reader, dear prospective cheese donor, dear friend, dear companion of my heart- the Rector said that there was so much to pack into this email that I (Bertie) was only allowed 40 words. I pointed out as kindly and gently as I could that nobody actually cared what he said and they were only interested in my adventures and my recommendations of cheese. And he said that I was rubbish at recommending cheese because all I would say was “Cheese- yummy” and scoff the lot immediately, rind and all. I said that that was not true and he challenged me to find the last cheese I had told you not to buy because it was not tasty and I have to admit that I couldn’t immediately think of one. So I need to go off and read through the previous 303 emails, leaving the Rector with the keyboard… apologies for that but it really can’t be helped.

The end of Phase B Restrictions

The Government has announced that Phase B restrictions end tomorrow. We are still taking some soundings at St Paul’s and St Nick’s but the rough outline of how things will look from Sunday is mostly settled, I think. We are trying to hold the balance still between those who are still very cautious for good reason and those who are more eager to get back to how things used to be. We need also to balance the fact that the Government is telling us to lift restrictions with the reality locally that Covid is still spreading, especially in local primary schools. We are not going to get everything right but we would rather err on the side of caution.

Some things will not change at either Church. Please keep taking a LFT before you come. Please use the handgel at the door. Please do give space to people around you. Please keep wearing a mask as you move round. We will continue to offer communion in one kind and the priest and servers will keep the same standards of hygiene around that. We aren’t ready yet to reintroduce full processions at the start and end of the service.

Some things will change from this Sunday, nonetheless. Mask wearing in Church becomes more of a personal choice. We will loosely designate areas at St Paul’s to meet people’s needs- those who are happy to sit next to people and don’t necessarily want to wear a mask will sit at the front of the nave and the front of the side aisles. Those who would like to keep social distance and wear masks will sit in the rear of the nave where the airflow is better. Please look at the signs on the seat to decide where to sit at the back. Both St Paul’s and St Nick’s (and Woosehill) are starting to serve coffee from Sunday morning, which is a very welcome return.

Obviously, we are feeling our way with all of this- if you have any comments, concerns or questions do please let me know by replying to this email or calling me on 0118 327 9116.

Forthcoming events

Part of the excitement around (hopefully and prayerfully) entering into a world after restrictions is the chance to start to plan ahead– there is already quite a lot in the diary- behold! If you only do one thing out of this email then this is the one thing- please open the file, read it, put things in your diary and then start to get excited about all of the things we will be inviting you to in 2022.

Also, look out for information next month about the Parish Giving Scheme. You will be asked to fill in one incredibly simple form which will act as Standing Order and Gift Aid form and also includes the option of linking to your donation to inflation. It is a scheme which is hugely popular across the Church of England and we are one of the last parishes locally to sign up. There will be a proper launch in February but the key two things are that the form is incredibly (actually ridiculously) simple to fill in, and it makes a huge difference to the Treasurer and his team in the parish. To coin a grim cliche, it’s a win-win.

Please do sign up for the Parish Zoom Quiz (full details in email 302) happening on Sat the 5th of Feb- if you are planning to come we need to know by Saturday the 29th of Jan so we can plan things properly.

Other things you (probably) need to know or might enjoy

Please don’t forget your candles this Sunday morning, as we come to the feast of Candlemas. You can always leave them in the Church porch or by the vestry if you are not going to be able to there in person. Or, if you email me, I can arrange to place a candle on the altar for you if you live further afield- or you can put a message in the chatbar during the service with the image of a candle. Woosehill will be holding their annual Methodist Covenant Service which is always an absolute highlight of the year- we pray and celebrate with them.

Here is a link to a service from Vaxjo Cathedral which I was sent this week- those who went on the expedition to our link parish in Sweden in 2019 will recognise the amazing building- do enjoy. Sit back and enjoy worship in the Cathedral of the parish we are so proudly linked to:

Here is the Deanery Prayer Cycle for the month ahead:

Also, a sombre update from Bishop Hall in Madagascar

The Foodbank collection is happening on Feb the 13th at both St Nick’s and St Paul’s during the Sunday morning services- here is the latest list of things they are short of, with the things they need most urgently at the top of the list:

And finally…

Many congratulations (for those who missed it) to Cara, our excellent Curate, for being one of the winners of the Manchester Cathedral Poetry Competition…

Here is the poem:

Wasting time with you, God

They tell me not to waste my time but, I dunno, I kinda like wasting time with you, God,

as we sit and listen to one another, lighting a candle for a prayer.

You do more of the listening than I do, but I think that’s probably ok,

and we wait awhile, watching until the flame on the candles die out, 

watching and waiting as each one represents the life of a loved one,

someone you know more than I do, but now I get to join in with that holy watching and waiting and grieving, 

and I can’t really find the words to express what a privilege this is so instead,

instead, I wait with you, praying and watching the flame flicker,

praying for a life that was and the family and friends that are.

For the people who wanted to hide their grief from me, the same way I, of course, hide mine from them. 

Though I can’t really hide it from you, God, can I, as we sit and waste the morning together.

The flames flicker and slowly, one by one their final prayer rises and so do I. 

Thanks for wasting time with me this morning, I’m so glad we did this together,

‘cos I can’t do this on my own. 

But you already know that, don’t you.

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