Benefice of Altham and Clayton-le-Moors
Revd Toby Webber, The Vicarage, Church Street, Clayton-le-Moors, BB5 5HT
firstname.lastname@example.org (01254) 384321
I write as we enter another ‘national lockdown’. It is not as intense, and is designed not to be as lengthy, as that which marked our spring and early summer. But it comes at a time when many of us are ‘fed up with the whole thing’ and just wish it away – and in a season of the year which is less hopeful and more melancholic. We are conscious that this time around our region is the worst affected with our local hospitals already caring for many patients with severe Covid infections. You may have seen the CNN news report from the Royal Blackburn(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj6xddWmKpo) – it makes for very powerful viewing. There are things to be thankful for, though, particularly the improvements in therapy for Covid patients, and initiatives like the virtual Covid ward reaching out to patients in the community, preventing deterioration and helping them recover. We must do all that we each can to make the lockdown, with all its pains, as effective as it can be in reducing the transmission of the virus. We want to keep our own loved ones and community safe, and to help those working so incredibly hard in our hospitals. Hospital Chaplain Revd David Anderson writes on the ELHT website, ‘Many of us have not recovered from what we went through last time and sometimes knowing what is to come can make it worse. One senior doctor said to me, “The virus is just as strong, but right now I feel weaker.”’
Amongst the pains of the lockdown will be the closure once again of our church buildings for public worship. As before – and indeed as has continued throughout – we will do what we can to join together through the help of modern technology. You will be able to view our Sunday services and our Friday Praise each week – either live or on catch up. And we are continuing to offer Night Prayer daily (except Fridays) at 9:30pm. Many people have found this to be a helpful moment for quiet reflection, intercession and focus on God at the end of the day. Don’t forget, you can access all this without needing a Facebook account – just head to www.facebook.com/allsaintsclayton . And if you’re not on-line why not try ringing the Daily Hope freephone number on 0800 804 8044?
Month of prayer
As you will see from the attached letter, our archbishops have called us to make November in particular a month of concerted prayer. 6pm is identified as a moment when we can all pause for a moment of prayer together wherever we may be. And Thursdays are identified as a day which we can dedicate as a day of focussed prayer for our NHS and carers. One ancient and biblical discipline of the church is to fast as a way of devoting ourselves and our prayer more deeply to God. We are encouraged to fast in some way on these Thursdays – perhaps we can give up one meal, or our snacks, or give up meat and dairy. Or perhaps give up something different – tv and social media. Not for its own sake, but to help us to focus on what really matters. I hope that the people of All Saints’ and St James’ will be wholehearted in making this lockdown month a time of prayer. For we know how much our community, our nation and our world need our prayers at this time.
There is a suggested focus for our prayers each day (for more details seewww.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches/call-prayer-nation:
Sunday – family, friends and loved ones
Monday – schools and colleges, children and young people
Tuesday – the elderly, isolated and vulnerable
Wednesday – businesses, the workplace and economic wellbeing
Thursday – the NHS and other keyworkers
Friday – national and local government
Saturday – all who are grieving, and all suffering with physical and mental ill-health
Looking to December
As we approach December we will respond to whatever ‘happens next’ in terms of regulations and guidance. Hopefully it will be possible to have church services taking place during Advent and Christmas. The decision has in any case been taken to have the busiest and most song based services on-line. Christingle will be shared on zoom on Friday 18th December at 6:30pm. The carol service will be premiered on Facebook on the afternoon of Sunday 20th December. And the crib service, including contributions from All Saints’ School, will premiere on Facebook on Christmas Eve at 4pm. We hope to be able to distribute CDs of the carol service to those unable to access the internet. Look out, too, for the Advent Calendar Windows which will light up around the community during December. One will be unveiled/lit up each day and you will be able to go and find them, or view them on Facebook. More details on all this will follow in due course.
The food bank was very grateful for everything collected as part of our harvest celebrations through church and school. In this time of high demand, please don’t forget that this is a very practical way of helping those in urgent need. If you can, please continue to drop off food or other items at the Baptist Church on Sparth Road, or the collecting points including the Co-Op and Champs.
The church remains very grateful, too, to those who are continuing to support our work, and towards meeting our ongoing costs. If you would like to give by standing order or a one-off bank transfer during these times, we can happily let you have the details. However one easy way to continue supporting the work of our church (especially during lockdown) is to give through this easy to use online giving page. Everyone’s support is appreciated as it still costs almost as much to maintain the ministry and the building as normal, yet our church income is reduced.
I write this as we prepare for Remembrance Day and just after we have celebrated All Saints’ Day. This time of year always reminds us of both the preciousness and the fragility of human life. It also reminds us that with God’s help people have endured much before and have shown great courage and resilience. May we, like them, keep the faith. May we, like them, be good comrades, looking out for each other, and especially the vulnerable. May we, like them put our trust in ‘God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter in the stormy blast and our eternal home.’
Yours in Christ ,