Life must be different for all of us and it feels strange for me too! With no church services to prepare for or attend, no visiting allowed, no meetings to attend, what on earth are the clergy up to during the week? Well, I can assure you that we’re not sitting around twiddling our thumbs or watching day-time TV!
Actually, we do have services to prepare for, as we’re doing them online. Many of us had never even heard of Zoom video conferencing before, but now I seem to spend half my day on it! So, we still have to prepare for worship, talks, and prayers, and make all the arrangements, and each week we learn something new, or think of a way of improving it somehow. We’re learning all the time. It takes quite a lot of effort getting it all ready and I find it quite tiring sitting in front of the computer screen for several hours a day.
Four mornings a week, Caroline, Melanie and I meet for Morning Prayer on Zoom and we spend some time together, sharing news, stories, discussing the readings together and praying together. We remember you all in our prayers, particularly those we know from our churches and communities who are sick, lonely, worried, bereaved or in any kind of trouble. We enjoy this time together and are getting to know each other well. It provides a good start to the day.
We are also having other meetings on Zoom. We started meeting with the local ministers in the town once a week, but that’s now moved to once a fortnight. We enjoy sharing news and supporting each other and getting to know each other better. Last week, I invited our local MP Andrew Murrison to join us for an hour (on Zoom) to discuss some local and national issues. We were very pleased he could be with us, and we had a wide-ranging conversation. He tackled all our questions with great interest and understanding, including Why haven’t we got a bypass round Westbury yet? And could the Government provide basic broadband for families with young people who are having to learn online at home? And also, whether the Government could give us some specific guidelines about returning to public worship and our other activities? It was a really good discussion and at the end he offered to come and meet us again.
Last week, we also had a meeting of Westbury PCC on Zoom for the first time, during which we reviewed how our services are going and how people are finding the pastoral care plan which has been running since early in the lockdown. We are very pleased that people are appreciating the telephone calls from the Telephone Buddy and the practical help from their Practical Person. Caroline, Melanie and I keep in touch with the TBs and are available to chat with anyone who would like to talk about any spiritual or pastoral matter. We follow up some people ourselves with phone calls or emails. This has been a good way for me to get to know some of you better. I would be very happy if anyone wants to ring me for a chat!
As a result of the PCC meeting last week, we also resolved to tackle the issue of our finances by doing a mailing to all our church members and people on the electoral roll, so part of my week has meant writing a letter, photocopying it, and with Beth’s leaflet, getting them into envelopes and distributed around the town. I’m not delivering them all myself but getting them to those who have offered to help.
We also had a very good discussion at the Zoom meeting on the course “Saying Yes to Life” which I am really enjoying.
In between all that, I have been reading some good books. I have just finished reading Holy Habits by Andrew Roberts, which I believe some of you were reading last year. I have just started reading a new book by Dr Sam Wells called A Future That’s Bigger than the Past. I have only just started it, but I really like what I’ve read so far. I think it will be a stimulating read.
I usually get out for a walk most days, and particularly enjoy going up to the White Horse, especially when it’s dry and fine. (See this week’s video message, which I recorded from there). In the evenings, when all is done, I sit down and watch some TV with the family. We have been enjoying watching the series of The Durrells (the latest version) which is on Netflix. We also enjoyed watching the series Devs which posed some interesting questions about free will versus determinism. I’ve also been playing the piano a bit again, and keeping in touch with some friends and extended family by phone or social media.
Anyway, I think that’s probably enough for now! Stay well, and God bless!