Published Autumn 2020
WE are now in the stage of trying to manage the virus instead of total ‘lockdown’ which is something to be thankful for after a period when all our lives have been put on hold, although there may well be local restrictions. Like many problems the virus has different aspects and will be far reaching, going beyond the period in lockdown, changing the way we live for some time to come yet. I have been noticing the effect that lockdown has had on us and the way we think and behave. Without doubt it has had a detrimental effect on some people and situations and as I write, this is particularly true in the poorer communities at home and around the world. Also, there are those who have suffered because of the loss of structure and routine and due to greater isolation and loneliness. But on the positive side, perhaps what I sense is a what I would call a ‘greater appreciation’ of people and things. For me personally, having arrived last October and still getting to know the Parish and the Town I have had to accept that getting to know the people and the place will take place not only in a different way but in some respects has to develop more slowly than usual. But I have been able to appreciate Arundel and the Cathedral Parish in this different slower way.
You will have noticed that during lockdown the streets were much quieter. I was hearing the birds sing, the wind blow (as it does round the cathedral) and the silence. Yes, the silence, I heard the silence. When all is silent, or nearly all, I sense that I can hear something. It is like being able to hear life itself. Not the busyness of life, but the sense of being alive and being part of something bigger that does not name itself yet is present. There is someone present in the silence, and I would call that presence God. On a good day, the silence is a love that can enfold you. I appreciate that not all feel this way and for many who are alone, silence can become oppressive. It is a personal thing and, I admit, dependent on mood as there are some days when I need company and during the lockdown the radio became a great companion. But the re- discovery of ‘listening to the silence’ could become a way into prayer. Sometimes the silence in prayer can be difficult, especially if our minds are full of distractions and worries. But it is often in silence and stillness, that God approaches us in ways that suit our own characters. I came, across this line in a prayer from Cardinal Basil Hume the other day: The best of all loves comes silently.
May be the lockdown has taught me something about the value of listening, not just to the natural world and to the silence but also to others and most importantly to God. It is a way of appreciating God’s activity in the world. God bless you.
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ – John 14:-1-6
JESUS says ‘do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms’. This is a very special passage of scripture, and a passage of great assurance during these past months of Coronavirus and in the coming out of lockdown which is happening and will hopefully continue to progress over the coming months. The Father’s house in heaven is big enough for all true believers in Jesus Christ. If you have ever doubted God or are troubled by and doubt the key truths of the Christian faith, that Christ died for sin and that he was buried, rose from death and ascended to the right hand of the father in heaven, and one day soon Jesus will come again, then John 14:1-6 is for you.
Jesus says, ‘do not let your hearts be troubled’. Jesus’ words show us the way to eternal life is assured for those who love Jesus and by faith believe in Him. Do not let doubt about Jesus worry or trouble. Jesus calls us to trust in Him and his saving love and grace. Jesus has prepared the way to God. The issue for us is to believe in God in Jesus Christ. This is difficult for some folk but do remember that Jesus is only a prayer away. For believers who are going through doubt Jesus says ‘in my Father’s house are many rooms – I go to prepare a place for you’. The Lord Jesus with his own hands has prepared a room in heaven for each Christian believer to reside in eternally.
Jesus in saying these words is speaking to his disciples, Thomas responds to Jesus, and said, ‘Lord we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the WAY? Jesus responds by saying that he is the only way to God. He goes on to says, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me’. This is the truth that sets Christianity apart; Jesus is the only way to God his Father. Only Jesus would die for the sins of the world – the sins of you and me. Jesus alone made the perfect sacrifice and atonement for sin. None other was good enough to pay the price of sin. Jesus is not a way to God he is THE way to God, salvation is found in no one else. There is no other name under heaven that we must call upon to be saved of our sin.
Jesus is our only way to the Father, and as the truth he is the reality of God’s promises and as the life he joins his divine life to ours now and eternally! We can thank God for providing us with a sure way to himself!
May this be a message of encouragement!
WHILST not trivialising it in anyway, I have to say that I’m pretty bored with the whole coronavirus business. I imagine that I echo the thoughts of many when I say that I’d just like to get back to normal. So, as I sat down to write this at the end of July, I was pretty determined not to mention Covid-19. Try as I might, though, the subject kept returning to my mind – this perishing bug just won’t go away (in more ways than one).
Even so, normality will return. And yet, as the media is fond of reminding us, that normality may well be
a new normality. This may not be a prospect that we welcome. And yet we have to admit that it’s nothing new. Change is necessarily part of what it is to be human. Nothing in the physical universe stays the same – things change; things come and they go – and at times the ever-changing and temporal nature of creation can be unsettling.
For Christians, though, there is a firm anchor in the midst of the tides of time. And, of course, that anchor is God, because God isn’t just another thing in creation that’s subject to change and decay, but rather the source of creation and being. Therefore God is unmoving and unchanging. As the prophet Isaiah rather poetically put it: ‘The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.’ This is a reality that many of us find comforting, especially in times of trial or turmoil. No matter what happens, God is with us. Nothing can change that. As St Paul famously put it: ‘I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
But what of the future? Well, as I look back at the current crisis, I am still amazed at the wonderful community spirit it has engendered. So many people have been (and still are) looking out for their neighbours in need. We certainly owe them our heartfelt thanks. This outpouring of generosity, care and love has been one of the fruits that has come out of adversity.
As we approach autumn, I’m reminded that this is the time when we rightly give thanks to God for the fruits of the earth.
Perhaps this year it should also be the time to give thanks for a different kind of fruit, the God-given fruit of love. And as we give thanks, let us also pray that this fruit of love may not be a one-off, but the start of something that is a permanent feature of our community, something that is a very positive part of our new normality.
St Nicholas Arundel
The Church re-opened for a 10.30am service on Sunday 12th July, with Social Distancing and Hygiene measures in place, according to Government guidelines.
The 10.30am service would continue as above for the following three months and the Evening service would be re-instated as soon as it was safely allowed to do so. Until then and from Sunday 12th July Pastor Steve would continue his Facebook Live Service at 6pm each Sunday. www.facebook.com/stephen.lomas.37
Sunday 20th September at 10.30am: Harvest Festival Thanksgiving Service, with gifts to Stone Pillow
Sunday 8th November at 10.30am: Remembrance Sunday
It was obviously not possible to arrange social events
or larger meetings at the present time because of Government restrictions, but see the Church website for current information. www.arundelbaptistchurch.org.uk
The Church re-opened for Holy Communion (Traditional) at 8am, followed by 10am Said Mass on Sunday 5th July, with Government recommended Social Distancing and Hygiene measures in place. There is a weekday service of Holy Communion (Traditional) on Wednesdays at 10am. Obviously numbers are limited at the 10am Sunday Mass so it is necessary to book for this before noon on Friday, either by ringing the Parish Office 01903 882262 or email:email@example.com.
The 10am Sunday Mass continues to be live-streamed, beginning at 9.55am. Details available on the church’s website www.stnicholas-arundel.co.uk. It is also possible to download a copy of the service sheet.
It is hoped to re-start the Sunday Group for young people in September.
ST. LEONARDS CHURCH, SOUTH STOKE
Holy Communion at 9am: 2nd Sunday of each month Evensong at 3pm: 4th Sunday of each month
Sunday 27th September at 10am:
Harvest Festival Mass and Harvest Festival Evensong at 4pm at St. Mary Magdalene Church, Tortington
Sunday 29th November – Advent Carol Service at 6pm (to be advised)
All information correct at the time of writing (1st August). Please see stnicholas-arundel.co.uk/news/re- opening-for-public-worship/ for up-to-date information
There are no planned events in the Cathedral over the coming months.
Sadly, choral societies have cancelled all planned concerts for the remainder of the year due to the difficulty of rehearsing and the limit on numbers in the Cathedral.