12th June 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
Romans 12:15 (NIV)
You’ve probably noticed that people’s experience of lockdown varies widely. Some are frantically juggling family and work, while others are enjoying a more relaxed pace of life. Some can’t wait for lockdown to end, while others are afraid of what will happen when it does. At the risk of overdramatising, some are hating every minute while others are loving every minute.
So these words of Paul’s may be timely ones for us. They’re about seeing things as other people see them and, more than that, actually feeling with them in it. For some reason we often find it harder to rejoice with those who are enjoying something we’re not enjoying, than to mourn with those who are struggling where we’re not. I suspect that most of us have both joys and sorrows to share during this time.
Sunday 14th June
Our 10am Sunday service will be available as usual on the church website: www.sssw.org.uk/sunday-services-online.
This Sunday we continue seeing what it was like to meet Jesus in different situations. This week: ‘What happens when Jesus meets deep need’ (Mark 7:31-37).
For Family Bible time, the link is https://www.sssw.org.uk/family-bible-time/
This term we are looking at Mark’s Gospel. This week it’s “Jesus heals a deaf man” (Mark 7:31-17). For the craft, you will need:
- colouring pens
• printed glasses sample (You can find this in the family bible time link under the video)
Following the service there will be the usual opportunity to meet together at 11.30am using Zoom. This Sunday we will spend the first 10-15 minutes saying hello and sharing encouragements in one big group, before then going into smaller ‘Breakout Rooms’. Please come in good time, and bring the kids too – they love seeing each other! And feel free to leave when you need to.
Photos & Videos
It would be lovely to see what you’ve been up to. It’s a way of staying in touch when we can’t meet together. So please send your photos and videos (20 seconds max.) so they can be shown in the Sunday service. Please remember that they will then stay on the website, and check what you have in the background! And if you’re looking for ideas, why not take a photo/video of yourself outside the church building? And we’ll see who can find the most obscure location! This week, please send them to Christopher Barry who has kindly offered to put them together.
Thought for the Week
Please follow this link to find the Thought for the Week on our website: https://www.sssw.org.uk/category/thought-for-the-week/ This week I offer further, hesitant reflections on the topic of racism. Please feel free to share these thoughts with others.
This week there will be the opportunity to pray together for 20 minutes: 12.30pm Monday to Friday, with a short Bible reflection and then open prayer.
St Stephen’s – Opening for Private Prayer
Following the indication that churches may re-open for private prayer, we are aiming to re-open St Stephen’s for the following sessions through the week from Monday 15th June:
Monday 4pm – 6pm
Tuesday 10am – 12pm
Wednesday 4pm – 6pm
Thursday 10am – 12pm
Friday 4pm – 6pm
Sunday 4pm – 6pm
We are planning to have in place a system that is safe for those attending to pray, and for the volunteer stewards, with social distancing and cleanliness being addressed. It is envisaged that:
- Access for private prayer will be limited to the Main Church room, and then only the front half of that room.
- Entrance for those coming to pray will be via the ‘old’ Porch door;
- Hand sanitisation on entry will be a requirement ;
- Social distancing will be essential, and floor markings will be in place to aid this;
- A one way clockwise system of movement will be operated;
- Seats will be set out in pairs within areas marked off on the floor to ensure that 2m distancing is maintained between people not from the same household;
- In order to care for those most vulnerable in our church family, everyone attending will be expected to follow Government and Church of England guidelines with regard to social distancing. Those on duty will be asked to prioritise the safety of those present;
- We intend to keep pace with guidelines on the number of people allowed to gather; at present this means that 10 people (8 praying and 2 stewarding) will be allowed in the Main Room at any one time
- A one-page, single-use prayer guide will be made available to anyone attending.
- No public access will be allowed to the other areas of the church building (Foyer, toilets, Cranmer Room, kitchen, Hudson-Taylor Room and 1st Floor). This is to limit the amount of cleaning between uses and the possibility of these areas being unknowingly contaminated.
It’s not easy to rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with those who mourn (which is presumably why we need telling to do it). We naturally want others to become like us! Thankfully, we have the example of Jesus who entered into our situation in order to serve us, and we have his Spirit to help us.
Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister)