29th April 2020.
The death of our dear friend John Stroud has saddened the hearts of many in
our church and community. In our present circumstance we cannot reach out
physically to his family. Many, I know have phoned or sent a letter and/or
card. Each of us can reach out spiritually to the family by praying for
In the absence of services personal prayer comes to greater prominence in
our spiritual lives. Not only is it the way in which we are united with God
but praying for one another is now the main way in which we can express and
nurture our spiritual unity and our love for one another. In order to help
us pray for one another we will recommence the production of the prayer
section of the weekly pewsheet and the latest edition of the Prayer Diary which for each day of the
month gives topics across the team and then roads in our parish. Both available here. I commend
the diary to your use. This diary would normally be used at daily prayers
in church. Virginia and I use the prayer diary as we pray together each
On Sundays I offer the Eucharist at 9.45am the usual time for the
mid-morning service in church. I ring the church bell as a sign that this is
happening. One of the ways in which Virginia and I pray for you is by
walking around the church and praying for those who sit in the different
sections of the church. Last Sunday it was very poignant to pray by the pew
where John Stroud usually sat with Madeline. We pray at the altar for those
who worship with New Way @ the Memorial Hall. On Sunday I also placed the
Church Family picture album on the altar. It remains open on the altar and
I am turning the page as I visit church and pray for those whose photos are
on the open pages. On the altar it is a perpetual memorial before the Lord
of the members of our community.
It is strange to offer the Eucharist with only Virginia from our community
physically present. I do not however think of myself as worshipping without
you. During the time of the first and second temples in Jerusalem on the
holiest day of the year, the day of atonement, the high priest would along
go into the Holiest of Holies, as it where the throne room of God on earth.
Though physically alone he took the people with him. How so? Part of his
vestments was a piece of jewellery comprised of twelve precious stones, one
representing each of the tribes of Israel. This item showed that he carried
the people on his heart as he entered the presence of God. In a similar
manner as I approach the altar, I see myself as taking you with me on,
indeed, in my heart. As I come to the altar of God, you come with me in all
my memories of you and prayers for you. As I join myself with you in my
prayers for you, may I invite you to join yourself to me by praying for me.
To help those who are isolated and especially those who may not be able to
access the internet the Church of England, along with other partners has
launched a phone line called, 'Daily Hope'. It is a free number 0800 904
9044. It describes itself as 'a free phone line of hymns, reflections and
prayers'. Details on the Virtual Church page.
Graham Bibby, our Team Missioner is producing a weekly reflection which is here.
Though many of us who are used to doing things for others are now getting
used to others doing things for us there are still ways in which we can help
practically. The demands on Food Banks has soared. Please consider using
the collection facilities provided by the supermarkets. Or you may drop of
items to the box in the church porch or on the vicarage doorstep when you
are on your daily exercise or as you are returning from shopping.
With my assurance of my prayers
Vicar of Bearsted, Rector of North Downs