Private prayers in a common space

“But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

Finally…. finally, it seems that the Church will be opening its doors again. Some say that it has been far too long, that the Church has not shown any leadership in this Covid chaos, that the one place of sanctuary needed for those who despair is the Church. Whatever position you take and however you have been living through this crisis, the lockdown rules are being eased to allow a more normal pattern of life to emerge.

However, before I am able to open the doors for those who wish to pray, I need to ensure that the Church is a safe place to enter and gather. We need to organise a rota of people to act as welcomers as well as cleaners, ensuring social distancing protocols are met and hygiene measures put into place. We need to limit the spaces which people travel and clearly signpost where they can sit. We need to take away all objects and books and papers which could be touched by visitors. We need to offer cleansing fluid on the way in and the way out. All of these things are to be written up on a risk assessment. It could sap any sense of joy that we might see friends returning from a long sabbatical! It all seems so functional, so procedural – nothing like Jesus’ instruction to pray.

“The church belongs to all of us. It is a common space. As long as we observe the guidance and science, the church should soon return to be a place of sanctuary.”

I will contact you as soon as I know when we can welcome pilgrims to church once more. We are meeting this weekend to decide those matters. You can, of course, continue to use the gardens – and many people have taken advantage of this quiet space. But my main message is that the church belongs to all of us. It is a common space. As long as we observe the guidance and science, the church should soon return to be a place of sanctuary.

Finally, I would like to direct you to the Oxford Diocese’s Church at Home service this Sunday. It features a variety of familiar faces from St Michael’s and so, I thought, I would take a break from the director’s chair! (In fact, I helped produce this service). The online Church at Home service takes place at 10am on Sunday. Bishop Steven is giving an address on Philippians and the Gospel of Matthew, and the Revd Skye Denno is presiding from her home in Old Marston. Press this link to watch the service “as live” on Sunday at 10am. If you miss it, you are able to watch it “as live.”  https://www.oxford.anglican.org/coronavirus-covid-19-2/livestream/ 

I realise that many of you will be continuing to shield and will not be able to come back to church. There are two ways of keeping in contact. The first is by phoning or emailing me or one of the other clergy. In the first instance my contact details can be found below. Please do bother me!! Secondly, if you are familiar with Zoom and are not over-zoomed then you can join us for coffee after church at 11.30am on Sundays. Simply email me or Clare Leal (curate@stmichaels-summertown.org.uk) for an invitation to join. It will be good to see/hear from you. I have included the June prayer intentions for you. Please also remember that you can easily say Morning or Evening Prayer at home from the Homepage of our website: www.stmichaels-summertown.org.uk Simply press the button and all the prayers, readings and canticles for each day open up before you! Give it a go.

I hope to be writing soon with details of how and when we will be opening the church. 

Gavin

Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.