Epiphany Letter

Epiphany Letter:  6th January 2020                                                       


Dear Friends in Christ,

We are writing to update you following the announcement of the Level 5 lockdown in England this week.

Unlike the arrangements last year, churches are permitted to remain open for worship and funerals during this lockdown.  So we will continue to provide our usual public services, as well as a weekly (or more frequent on Festivals and Saints Days) online service for you to watch on YouTube (just go to YouTube.com and search “St John’s Perry Barr”.  You can subscribe to our channel there, for free).

These services will continue in church:  Sunday 10.30am (Parish Mass); Wednesday 10am (Mass); Friday 1pm (Mass).  We will also continue to offer Morning Prayer (9.30am) and Evening Prayer (4.30pm alternating each week between St John’s and St Paul’s) on Wednesdays.  We will live-stream Wednesday morning prayer on our Facebook page, so that people are able to join in from home if they wish.

We must, however, be even more cautious and careful than ever when deciding whether or not to attend services, particularly if anyone falls into a clinically vulnerable category, or is shielding.  Please do not feel you have to attend any services if you are worried or concerned.  It is best to be safe in these current circumstances, and the main message of Level 5 is “stay at home”. Holy Communion and collective worship are important to many of you, so we want to continue to offer services at the usual times – but with no expectation on attendance.  If you are able to attend, it will be lovely to see you, but if you feel anxious or worried about attending, we hope that you will feel comfortable in staying at home in the knowledge that the Sacrament is being celebrated in church on your behalf at those times.  For those attending, the current arrangements on face coverings, 6ft/2m distance, hand sanitising and not mixing between households/bubbles must be carefully observed.

There is certainly light at the end of this tunnel, with the rolling out of vaccines and the promise of Spring and warmer weather.  We look forward to keeping as much of Lent as possible, and particularly for a rich celebration of Holy Week and Easter.  Do please keep an eye on our website and social media accounts for updates as the weeks go by.  Keep praying at home too – resources are included with this letter.

In the vicarage, I have a piece of Aboriginal Art which I found on my visit to Australia in 2019.  It depicts the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child at Epiphany.  It reminds me how connected we all are across the continents, as well as of happier times when travel and seeing friends was taken for granted.  We pray that happy times such as those return soon, and that in the meantime, may God continue to shelter us under His wing, and keep us as the apple of His eye.

Father Barrie and Mother Laura