Sunday, 16 May 2021

Online worship is blessing for us all

JUST over a week ago we had our last live church communion service as part of our Thursday opening.

With the current situation this has stopped, although we still open the church for quiet prayer on Sunday afternoons and Thursday mornings. All our services are now on Zoom.

When I wrote my last Thought for the Week a year ago, we were looking forward to the completion of our building projects and the licensing of our new vicar.

Our bells had been refurbished and re-hung the previous August and
rededicated by Bishop Colin. When he visited us, he asked to return to bless our west end building works, the new disabled loo, staircase to the organ loft and mini vestry and we’d been able to unwrap the newly rebuilt organ.

Rev Canon John Blair was duly installed in February and soon after the Bishop blessed the result of all the hard work by the Friends, PCC, builders, organ builders, architects and the diocese.

After all the excitement we continued cleaning and snagging and had one more Sunday service in the church. Then all places of worship were closed. All that hard work and years of planning and we could not use it.

The following Sunday’s service was online. By the miracle of Zoom we were all able to join with our sister parish of North Stoke. I was in Somerset but still able to take part.

Then came the lockdown. I got back to Ipsden and, in common with most others, I have been at home ever since. Some churches have been streaming services or putting them on YouTube. It’s extraordinary how quickly those who are able to use these routes to collective worship have been able to adapt. It isn’t just the young either, there are an awful lot of “silver surfers” around.

As this has developed, our worship has extended to Wednesday evening prayer and Friday night compline as well as Sunday morning service with the occasional virtual Eucharist. Quite an advance on one Sunday service per week. Surely a case of God moving in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform.

Another blessing, in the midst of the current gloom, is the degree of inclusion. People who have been unable to attend physical church services through infirmity or distance are able to attend and take a full part now.

During Advent the rector led a nightly reflection, seven days a week and I think I only missed one. I have to admit that I would never have driven up to Checkendon to attend these.

We will have a parochial church council meeting by Zoom this week. There should be no absences even though two of our number are delayed abroad, in Canada and Dubai.

I feel that church will never be the same, even when we can go back into the buildings on Sunday. As Aretha Franklin sang: “Who’s Zoomin’ who?”

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