Sunday Before Lent

Worshipping Together – Last Sunday before Lent

Dear All,

Welcome once more to our ‘kitchen table communion service’. It is a joy still to be able to share with you in this, even though we are still parted, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite the obvious need for lock down and our matching decision to keep each other safe by staying apart for now, so many of you have already received your vaccinations and the wonderful work of so many scientists and medics means that during the next few months more and more people will be safe.

Today is the last Sunday before Lent (hard to believe as that may be) and, as we prepare for that extended time of penitent pondering and preparation, today we remind ourselves of the transformative power of the God we worship

So until next time, be it in a church building or on the pages of this website

Keep separate, keep safe, keep hoping, keep smiling (even behind your mask) and keep faith for we are never separated from the love of God or from the prayers of each other.

Mary Tucker

A ‘Kitchen Table Communion’ to say at home (adapted from the worship of the Iona Community)

Gathering Prayer

Creator of the cosmos,
Of eternity and time:
Be with us in this time.
Saviour of the world,
Healer of the nations:
Be with us in this place.
Breath of all that lives,
Of people near and far:
Stir within our lives.
Creator, Son, Spirit
God of here and now:
Be present in our worship
That we may find new ways
Of being present in your world.

(Hymn/Song – Sing something you enjoy!!)

Bible Readings

2 Corinthians 4:3-6

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

This is the Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Mark 9:2-9

The Transfiguration

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.  His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.  And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

This is the Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Some Thoughts on the Readings

Veils and shining faces.

It sounds like a description of a wedding. And it’s true, at all the best marriage celebrations there is something shining, something that gets past the nerves and trembling, the tears and the emotion, in the eyes of those who are pledging themselves to one another. Something shines out

It’s said about smiles too. You can tell if a smile is real, genuine. It’s not about the grin, it’s something that shines, yes that really shines. It’s something in the eyes that tells you it is real. And that’s why it works even from behind a mask!

They say it also about women who are expecting a baby. Pregnancy, we are told, has a real glow, something of the joy that the mother to be is feeling shines out.

Both of the readings set for this morning are about shining faces, glowing countenances. Both also have something about veils, something that, for better or worse, shields us or others from the shining. Or perhaps something that gets in the way, blocks the glow.

In the Gospel reading the chosen disciples accompany Jesus who has taken them up the mountain to pray. Both the disciples and Jesus hear God’s words, hear confirmation, God’s words of affirmation that he is God’s Son, that his words are words to which all people should listen.

And Jesus is transformed by this encounter with the Living God. He actually glows. His glory shines out.

The disciples, huddled on the mountainside near Jerusalem are fearful, awestruck. The cloud rescues them, veils their sight that they may not be overwhelmed by the might and glory of close contact with God. But in some ways their sight was already veiled, veiled by their fear, their lack of faith and trust, their misunderstanding, as so often is ours.

So Paul, writing to the Christians of Corinth, and of course to us, draws the comparison with this encounter and our reactions to it. Of course we are awestruck and sometimes a little fearful of our Almighty God and Father, and so we should be if we come into his presence too easily, thoughtlessly and without due reverence, as a little prayer for use before Bible Reading puts it. And yet too often, I think, like the disciples, we veil our own sight from the ultimate power and overwhelming love that is God’s through inappropriate fear, lack of faith and trust or misunderstanding.

Awesome is an overused word but in this context it is absolutely the right one. So Paul tells us our minds are to be open to this glory not hardened like those separated from God through sin and fear. We are the unveiled ones who can and do (sometimes) reflect the light of Jesus, not through any might or merit of our own but because the veil, the need to be separated from God because of our sin, was destroyed, was torn from top to bottom like the curtain in the temple as Jesus fulfilled his destiny for us at Calvary.

Instead of a veil, Paul goes on later to compare us to the disciples who did not remain fearful and untrusting. We too can be transformed like them, he tells us, transfigured by the flames of Pentecost, by Jesus’ Spirit mirrored in us and changing us ‘from glory to glory’, as we are transformed by his love and power into the shining ones we were always intended to be.

And we have a responsibility, a responsibility to shine. We may not glow like a light bulb or fluoresce like a high viz. jacket, but it is expected of us, it is part of the ministry of those of us whose sight of God is no longer veiled, of those of us who call ourselves Christians to shine forth in the world.

Our behaviour, our talk, our faces and, yes, even our masked smiles should show forth the glory of the God we serve. And it is not too much to ask because in prayer and in partnership with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are being transformed from glory to glory in his power.

I am fond of saying that though I can see that God is making some progress in his slow transformation of me into the image of the one I will one day be, I have,as yet, only made it from glory to gl . . . ! But that is no excuse. We must not lose heart or think ourselves unworthy of the ministry each of us is given. In the power of God and of Jesus our Saviour we will go forth from here today and those we meet in the coming week, mask to mask, on the phone or via the wonders of technology, may not be dazzled but should at least be aware of the light of God’s love glowing through all we are and say and do.

So go forth in the peace of Christ, to love and serve and to shine for the Lord.

Prayers

We continue our prayers now as we pray to the Lord for courage as we walk, together but apart, along the road of life.

In this difficult time, give your Church the courage to give up her preoccupation with herself and to give time to your mission in the world.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus bring forgiveness to your people and help us to face the cost of proclaiming salvation as we work together and apart in your damaged world.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give your world the courage to give up war, bitterness and hatred, and to seek peace and healing for each other.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the shoulders of the risen Jesus, once scourged by soldiers, bear the burden of our times.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up quarrels, strife and jealousy in our families, neighbourhoods and communities.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the presence of the risen Jesus, his body once broken and now made whole, bring peace and direction as we live with one another. Give us the courage to give up our selfishness as we live for others, and to give time, care and comfort to the sick and those who care for them in ways that are safe for them and for us.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the wounded hands of Jesus bring his healing touch to all who suffer, and the light of his presence fill their hearts and homes.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up our fear of death and to rejoice with those who have died in faith. May the feet of the risen Lord Jesus, once nailed to the cross, walk alongside the dying and bereaved in their agony, and walk with us and all your Church through death to the gate of glory.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer, here and in eternity. Amen.

We pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.

Amen

A Home Communion

(use some bread or a plain biscuit, some wine or juice)

What we do here in our own homes today, we do in imitation of what Christ first did.

To his followers in every age, Jesus gave an example and command rooted in the experience he shared with his disciples in an upstairs room in Jerusalem.

So now we do as Jesus did.

We take this food and drink, the produce of the earth and fruit of human labour.

In these, Jesus has promised to be present, through these, Christ can make us whole.

Eucharistic Prayer

The Lord is with us,

And with all those with whom we worship, together but apart.

We lift our hearts together.

We lift them to the Lord.

We give thanks together to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right, for you made us,

and before us, you made the world we inhabit,

and before the world, you made the eternal home

in which, through Christ, we have a place.

And so we gladly join our voices to the song of the Church,

to those from whom we are separated

on earth and in heaven:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might,

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

And now,

lest we believe that our praise alone fulfils your purpose,

we fall silent

and remember him who came because words were not enough.

Setting our wisdom, our will, our words aside,

emptying our hearts and bringing nothing in our hands,

we yearn for the healing, the holding, the accepting, the forgiving

which Christ alone can offer.

(we pause quietly for a moment)

Merciful God, send now, in your kindness

your Holy Spirit on this food and drink

and fill them with the fullness of Jesus.

And let that same Spirit rest on us,

converting us from the patterns of this passing world,

until we conform to the shape of him whose food we share.

Amen.

Sharing God’s Gifts

Among friends, gathered round a table,

Jesus took bread and broke it, and said,

‘This is my body, broken for you.’

Later he took a cup of wine and said,

‘This is the new relationship with God

made possible because of my death.

Take it, all of you, to remember me.’

He whom the universe could not contain is present to us in this food.

He who redeemed us and called us by name now meets us in this cup.

So we take this food and drink.

In them God comes to us so that we may come to God.

(Eat, drink, share the food and drink you have prepared and prayed over)

The Peace

(We bring to mind all those with whom we would usually share this moment,

holding them on our hearts.)

Christ who has nourished us is our peace,

strangers and friends, male and female, old and young, near and far away,

Jesus has broken down the barriers to bind us to him and to each other.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

(and also with you)

Concluding prayer

In gratitude, in deep gratitude for this moment, this meal, we give ourselves to you. Take us out to live as changed people because we have shared the living Bread and cannot remain the same.

Ask much of us, expect much of us, enable much by us, encourage many through us.

May God’s goodness be ours.
May each of us be an oasis in the desert.
May each of us be a star in the dark.
May each of us be a staff to the weak.
May the love Christ Jesus gave fill every heart for us.
May the love Christ Jesus gave fill us for every heart.
May God’s blessing be ours.

Amen

Worshipping Together – Apart – Again!

Dear All,

And so it goes on but now with a bright point for the future in that so many of you have been vaccinated. However, we must still remain vigilant and careful of one another’s safety so, once again thanks to the technical expertise of Stilman, we continue to ‘Worship Together – Apart’ on this our church website.

The service today is once again one adapted from Morning Prayer at the Sheldon Community and we thank them for permission to use parts of their Liturgy. I have of course included the readings for this Sunday, the third after Epiphany, and added some thoughts to ponder.

With every blessing

Keep separate, keep safe, keep praying, keep hoping and trusting in our all-powerful and all-loving God,

With every blessing

Mary Tucker

A Service to say at home

Opening Prayer

This day Lord, may I dream your dream,

This day Lord, may I reflect your love,

This day Lord, may I do your work,

This day Lord, may I taste your peace.

Hymn – Sing something you enjoy!!

Canticle

In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house

will be established as the highest of the mountains.

It will be raised above the hills

and all the nations will flock to it.

Many peoples will come and they will say,

let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

to the house of the God of Jacob,

that we may be taught the ways of the Lord

and may walk in the right paths.

From the mountain of the Lord shall go forth the law

and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

The Lord will judge between the nations

and settle disputes for many peoples.

They shall beat their swords into ploughshares

and their spears into pruning hooks.

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation

nor ever again prepare for war.

Come, O house of Jacob

Let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Bible Readings for the Third Sunday after Epiphany

Psalm 128
1 Happy is everyone who fears the Lord,
   who walks in his ways.
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labour of your hands;
   you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
   within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
   around your table.
4 Thus shall the man be blessed
   who fears the Lord.
5 The Lord bless you from Zion.
   May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

This is the Word of the Lord

Thanks be to God

An extra readingfrom John 20:19-29

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

But Thomas (who was called the Twin*), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

Some Thoughts on the Readings

Do you ever wake up in a grump? Not a bad mood because of some particular reason, (and we do have quite a few reasons at present) that’s understandable, but just a grump for no good reason?!

Brace yourselves, because today as I settled to write these thoughts I had woken up in a truly massive grump!

Now often when this happens (and I’m ashamed to say it does happen often), starting the day with my quiet time of Bible reading and prayer lifts me out of myself, points me back towards God, and makes me thankful – or at the very least a bit less grumpy! Not today!

Reading the Psalm we’ve just read together (but apart) and then the story of the water into wine miracle just seemed to make me grumpier still. In the version we have used the Psalm begins

“Happy is everyone who fears the Lord . . . “

Happy!!!?? Happy!!!?? I wanted to shout, (I didn’t because my husband was in the room above still asleep) I’m not happy, I’m grumpy! And this has made me grumpier still!

I wonder how it made you feel? It may have given you a feeling of safety in God’s loving care and if it did that I’m pleased, because I think that’s what it’s meant to do and it’s most certainly what most of us need at the moment. But you may, like me, have taken it literally as saying that if we fear God (and remember when it says fear it doesn’t mean terror, it means reverence), if we fear God everything will be all right, we’ll live happily ever after with our blooming vines, our riches, our vast and productive families and a life of total peace.

Hmmmm!? No wonder in a way it made me grumpier still!

And then I read about Jesus’ miracle at the wedding, his saving of an embarrassing human situation and his first demonstration of his power and divinity and I thought,

“I need a miracle this morning if I’m ever to shake off this great grump!”

We do sometimes pray for miracles, though it’s usually in more serious situations that just being in a bad mood, but if and when we do, more times than not I guess, they don’t seem to happen. Just as it said at the beginning of that story of Samuel we read last week, “. . . visions and miracles were rare in those days. . .” and in these days too we may add. I wonder if in every age ordinary people like us have actually been saying that.

Anyway back to the great grump! “This is no good,” I thought, and walked away to get a restorative cup of tea and that’s when the miracle happened. There it was, right in front of my eyes – The Grumpy Mug, my own modern miracle, a Christmas present of a few years ago as it happens, but in this situation a real gift from God. I wish I could show you – I’ll describe it instead.

The mug shows a picture of one of Roger Hargreaves’ ‘Mr Men’, Mr Grumpy in fact, with his downturned mouth and his wrinkled brow and his name neatly inscribe beneath. As the boiling water was poured in however a miraculous change occurred – the miserable face was replaced, little by little as the mug heated up, to the bright yellow, smiling countenance of Mr Happy, little stumpy arms outstretched in joy!

I couldn’t help but smile too.I won’t claim that all the grumpiness disappeared immediatelybut it was certainly a start,and my decision to share it with you all in this servicealso made me happierbecause I was sure you’d enjoy it as much as I did and do.

So transformed into Mr Happy or at least Mrs Happier I returned to the readings to try again and the first thing I noticed was that in most translations of the Psalm it doesn’t say ‘happy’ it says,

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord.”

Well, I couldn’t deny it, I had turned to him grumpy and downcast and, in the time it took to make a hot drink, God had sent a small blessing, an everyday miracle, in the shape of a trick mug.

I’m not claiming it was a miracle in itself, some scientist could explain how the paint reacts to heat and reveals the cheerful picture, but it was a miracle for me at that moment. It was God’s response to my need, using the things close at hand just as Jesus used the jars of water to bring good of all sorts out of a very ordinary human difficulty in Cana.

Neither will I claim that in that moment I was suddenly ecstatically happy, but blessed? – yes, I felt blessed, if only with some respite from my grumpiness.

‘Blessed’ – it’s not a word we use that often ‘in these days’ so I started to think about other times it is used in the Bible, there are lots, but the one that came to mind comes at the end of the story of doubting Thomas which is why I included it as an extra reading today.

I suppose being grumpy is a form of doubt. Who could truly be grumpy if every moment of their waking day was spent in awareness of God walking alongside? Who could truly be grumpy if every moment of their daily life was spent in trust and faith that, whatever comes good or bad, he will be there with the miracle of his loving-kindness and support.

Well, the answer of course is – sometimes me – and it may from time to time be true for you too.

On our bad days and in our bad times we forget the times when we have felt that trust, those situations when, at the time or afterwards, we’ve become aware of this loving presence and care. In our grumpiness we doubt God, or perhaps it’s that in our doubt of God we become grumpy? or perhaps it’s a bit of both.

But back to doubting Thomas, poor man. (He probably did lots of good and great things, but this is all we remember him for.) Maybe he was having a grump that morning when the excited disciples told him Jesus was alive again or maybe he, like us, didn’t believe that “. . . visions and miracles happen in these days.” Whatever! But here is the blessing, here is the small miracle, Jesus speaks down the ages to us as he speaks to Thomas,

“Because you have seen me,” he says to his disciple, “you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

That’s us! We have his special blessing because of our belief, even when it gets a bit wobbly and doubtful.

In these lock-down days there do not seem to be massive miracles though we may be praying for them, yet without them we struggle on and try to remember to rejoice in small ones (of which there are many, vaccinations not least amongst them) and to have faith and to believe even when we are grumpy.

In the words of scripture we have shared today Jesus pours out his blessing on us, his encouragement and his affirmation of all our efforts grumpy or otherwise.

So let us try be constantly aware of everyday blessings, looking out and looking back to see the small miracles that have and do continue to occur and perhaps you’ll be able to say with me,

“Visions and miracles are not as rare as we think in these days”

On which note I raise my smiling mug of coffee to you all – CHEERS!

Prayers

Let us pray to God,
who alone makes us dwell in safety:

For all who are affected by coronavirus, through illness or isolation or anxiety, that they may find relief and recovery:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For those who are guiding our nation at this time and shaping national policies, that they may make wise decisions:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For doctors, nurses and medical researchers, that through their skill and insights many will be restored to health:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For the isolated and housebound, that we may be alert to their needs, and care for them in their vulnerability:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For our homes and families, our schools and young people, and all in any kind of need or distress:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For a blessing on our local community, that our neighbourhoods may be places of trust and friendship,
where all are known and cared for:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For the vulnerable and the fearful, for the gravely ill and the dying, that they may know your comfort and peace:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

We commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray,
to the mercy and protection of God.
Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.

We pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us,

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.

Amen

Closing Prayer and blessing

May the love of God sustain us this day,

May the light of Jesus radiate our thinking and speaking,

May the power of the Spirit penetrate all our decisions,

And may all we do this day witness to your presence in our lives.

Amen

The Lord bless us and keep us,

The Lord make his face shine upon us and be gracious to us,

The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us,

And give us peace.

The Lord bless us.

Amen

Restrictions to worship

BIll Boon has forwarded this question and answer information about public and private worship.


Can we use ash on Ash Wednesday?

Yes, with some changes to typical practice. If words are customarily said at the imposition1 , these words are spoken to the whole congregation before the imposition begins. The minister imposing the ashes should sanitize hands immediately before the imposition of ashes begins. Standing at arm’s length from the recipient and wearing a face mask, the minister sprinkles the ashes on each recipient’s head without touching them or speaking any words. If the minister accidentally touches the recipient, they must sanitize hands again. The temptation should be resisted to use a singleuse implement to apply ash to the forehead. If ash is being produced locally, this should be done in a hygienic manner. Consideration should be given that, on this occasion, the ash will be sprinkled and not daubed: the addition of oil may not be necessary. The imposition of ash in places other than the church or churchyard is not recommended. Ministers may wish to encourage the imposition of ash within households, especially if public worship is not taking place. Instructions for making ash (whether from palm crosses or something else) can be shared with congregations. 2. Can small groups meet, and can talks be given that are not part of public worship? Such groups are not currently permitted to meet in public buildings or private homes (including vicarages) unless they are support groups. Gatherings in church must be for ‘communal worship’. 3. Can the Stations of the Cross be used? If the Stations of the Cross are being prayed in person, people should not gather around the stations, touch them, or walk between stations. Physical distancing must be preserved. It may be helpful to take pictures of the stations which can be shared on a screen or in a handout, whether people are gathered online or in church. 1 See Common Worship: Times and Seasons, p. 230

Can palm crosses be distributed?

Yes. If palm crosses are being made locally, this should be done in a hygienic manner. Crosses could be enclosed in envelopes to avoid too much contact when they are collected or distributed. Households could make their own palm crosses from palm leaves, paper, or some other material following instructions from the Internet. Paper or other crosses could be affixed to windows of homes. Following long precedent, other kinds of natural foliage could also be used instead of palm crosses.

Can the ‘Chrism Mass’ / Distribution of Oils / Renewal of Commitment to Ministry happen this year?

Yes, as long as the guidance for public worship is followed if they are happening in person, including the observance of local limits on attendance. Bishops and cathedrals may wish to find alternative means of renewing commitments and distributing oils, in addition to a service or other gathering online. If oils are distributed, they should be hygienically bottled in advance and handled a minimum number of times.

Can the Easter Candle be marked / carried around?

Yes. A minimum number of people should handle the Easter Candle.

Can the Exsultet (the Easter Song of Praise) be sung?

Yes, as long as the guidance for singing in places of worship is observed.

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Nobody may leave or be outside the place where they are living without ‘reasonable excuse’. Reasonable excuse includes leaving home to attend a place of worship. No indoor gatherings of 2 or more people unless all involved are from the same household or 2 linked households. No outdoor gatherings of 2 or more people – except in certain public outdoor places, in which case 2 people may gather – unless all involved are from the same household or 2 linked households.

Public worship in church, churchyard or other premises where church services are routinely held

Permitted as ‘communal worship’ provided that any person attending is: • alone or • part of a group all from the same household or from two linked households and must not join any other group or mingle with any person from another group. A statutory risk assessment must be carried out and all reasonable measures taken to limit risk of transmission of coronavirus.

Individual prayer in church

Permitted

Church service in a public outdoor place that is not a churchyard or other outdoor church premises

Not permitted

Weddings in church

Permitted provided the gathering consists of no more than 6 persons. A statutory risk assessment must be carried out and all reasonable measures taken to limit risk of transmission of coronavirus. Government advice is that weddings should currently take place only in exceptional circumstances, such as where one or both persons are seriously ill and not expected to recover. Wedding receptions are not permitted.

Funerals in church, churchyard, cemetery or crematorium

Permitted provided the gathering consists of no more than 30 persons. A statutory risk assessment must be carried out and all reasonable measures taken to limit risk of transmission of coronavirus. Related activities, such as the burial of ashes, are also permitted provided the gathering consists of no more than 6 people.

Baptism and confirmation (in the context of communal worship, whether or not a regular service)

The same as for public worship in church, churchyard or other premises where church services are routinely held (see above).