Diocese of Hereford
Contents of attached PDF file
Comms Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Thursday 16th April 2020
Message from Bishop Richard
The latest news
Service leader rota and Easter services
Farewell Bishop Alistair
Candle prayer for Hereford from Nuremburg
Diocese freephone prayerline
Education resources and Videos
A reflection from Rev'd Rufus Noy
With the extension of lockdown for another three weeks, I think we collectively ponder how long this pandemic will continue, whilst we give thanks for the many who are risking their lives to keep the essential areas going, and are equally amazed by the creative generosity of so many.
At home, the telephone and social media has become the gateway for friends, family and parish life, which is punctuated by my journeys to deliver food for the Leominster food bank, or the TV and radio which have become my window on the world.
If I am truthful, I find this window creates anxiety because my heart aches when I hear the harrowing daily numbers of people having succumbed to this dreadful disease, and my deep felt sadness for the families they have left behind.
In the rhythm of this new way of living with pandemic anxieties, I marvel at the parents and guardians who are home tutoring, and their ingenuity to keep their children occupied and safe. Personally I now find many of the little jobs I intended to do have been done, or I have run out of the supplies to do them. So now my attention is being drawn to a Christmas present, a guitar, that beckons me to pick it up and learn how to play it, or the model ship which Daria bought me 21 years ago that is calling to be built. But I find I am resisting the urge to start both of these, as giving in to these is the admission that waiting for this lockdown to be over may be the hardest thing we shall all ever do. Instead I pick up a book, and try to settle.
I reflect, whether in our personal faiths we believe in God or not, making sense of what is going on is difficult. Pope Francis said “God always forgives, we men forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives.” If this is the case we cannot ignore what has gone on before because as a Christian I acknowledge we are called to be stewards of God’s creation, but our relationship has been driven by greed, and global warming and disease is the evidence we’ve done things wrong and things need to change.
Regardless of the reasons, during this lockdown I recognise I am learning a very hard lesson, which I believe the disciples also learnt on the road to Emmaus during the first Easter. Scripture tells us in chapter 24 of St Luke’s Gospel, it was not when the disciples were busy they recognised the resurrected Jesus, rather it was when they were still and Jesus blessed the bread, which became a life changing moment for them full of joy.
Cracking Easter open for us should be as counter cultural today as it was when the risen Christ made himself known, and this Easter has certainly gone down in the annuls of history. But what it has given us, as the spirit is set free from the shackles of our daily routines, is the opportunity during lockdown to be still and sift what is important in our life and the values we live by. Through which we to come face to face with a singular and uncomfortable truth, that our twitchy all singing, all-dancing, media driven agitated life prior to the start of the pandemic is not as life giving as we thought, rather it is world destroying.
If we truly intend making this world a better place when we come out from our lockdown with the fullness of Easter joy soaked into every nook and cranny of our lives, which also pays tribute to each life lost and the service of many, let us use this time of stillness wisely. Because from the darkness of the pandemic needs to rise a phoenix which respects and cherishes all of God’s creation and all who live within it, for ours and our children’s tomorrows. So let us today make a commitment to change our ways, that together, we make a better tomorrow.
Stay safe and well
A message from the Rev'd Rufus Noy, our Vicar
(originally published in the April & May Parish Magazine)
Matilda and Snowy
I think I am probably not alone at feeling shocked by the news about the spread and speed of the coronavirus and the measures to hamper it. In the midst of the chaos, anxiety and fear, it is natural we would want to draw together and hunker down with those we love, but now we depend on telephones and the social media to do this as we practice social distancing to survive the pandemic.
One of the challenges we face is how to maintain our sense of togetherness in the face of social isolation, and although we have family, friends and neighbours we know, we also need to respond to the needs of our whole community. I have noticed social media already buzzing with wonderful stories of peoples love and kindness in other parts of the country as they respond to their community’s needs, and we need to be doing the same, as there may be some among us who may need shopping, cheering up, prescription collection, or just need to have a coffee and chat at 11am over the phone or using Facetime, and to do this it is important we share telephone numbers at this time. There is also a WhatsApp group “East of Leominster” to share some of the silly aspects of life, as well as the serious requests for assistance if it is needed.
As much as we may all think we are invincible and won’t become ill, practically we may need to think about what happens if we do and how we may help the emergency services. Please consider keeping a written list of emergency numbers, as they will not be able to access your mobile phone, your name, date of birth, and next of kin and a list of any medication and allergies you have. Also we need to think about who may look after our furry family, which for many like myself and Daria, is naturally a big concern with Matilda and Snowy.
Church services are suspended, but the churches are open for quiet prayer, and there is also a range of Christian resources available for us to use at this difficult and challenging time:
Time to Pray app - everything you need for Prayer During the Day, with variations according to the day of the week and the season of the Church’s year.
Daytime prayer and Night prayer service audio - building on the existing daily prayer feed, this includes daytime prayer and night prayer for each day. It will be available as a downloadable app in the coming weeks.
Live streaming services from churches - AChurchNearYou.com now lists hundreds of churches offering livestreams of services from across the country.
The BBC's Daily Service and Sunday Worship
Prayer for the day - each day the Church of England publishes audio and text of the Prayer for the Day.
We are also invited to light a candle on Sundays at 7pm and place it in our windows as we think about everyone affected by the virus and say a prayer ....
Lord Keep us under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Wishing you all good health and all my blessings.
Coronavirus Church Closure Notice
It is less than three days ago that I wrote an article for our community confirming the churches were to remain open for private prayer and closed for public services, however this all changed within 24 hours.
The Archbishop, Justin Welby, together with all the Bishops across the United Kingdom yesterday ordered our churches to be immediately locked, and so with a heavy heart I asked our churches to be locked.
This for many feels really wrong, as our churches are a place of sanctuary amidst the storm and chaos of wars, a place of prayer, of collective memories that colour and punctuate our busy lives, which resonate the resurrection promise of hope, love and the overcoming of adversity. But our churches have been closed, because scientific studies have found the Coronavirus remains alive from several hours to days on surfaces, and people may acquire the Coronavirus by breathing in the airborne virus transmitted by other people, and after touching contaminated objects.
The scientific studies suggest, just entering any building, where others have been before means the virus could potentially be transmitted to you by touch, because it will be alive on door handles and surfaces for several days. Therefore as we are told the two greatest commandments are to love God and also our neighbour as ourselves, to avoid the high risk of cross contamination to our neighbours, friends and families, our churches have been closed to save lives.
Wishing you all good health and all my blessings.