10 May 2021

Reopening our four churches
with caution and confidence

‘Come Holy Spirit’ … Sunday 23 May is Pentecost or Whit Sunday … the holy water stoup in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

From Monday next (10 May), our churches may open again, with caution, as part of the easing of the pandemic lockdown.

This does not mean everything has returned to normal, and we are being advised to take the first steps with caution.

We need to continue to wear face masks in church, to use hand sanitisers in the churches, to keep social distances in the pews, to take contact details, and (at present) to avoid hymn-singing.

How can we reopen our churches with caution but with confidence?

It is important to avoid being a ‘super-spreaders’, and yet to offer the opportunity for everyone to return to church as soon as possible. The Ascension Eucharist is being celebrated in Saint Mary's Church, Askeaton, on Thursday morning (13 May), and then on the following four Sundays our four churches begin to open, one-by-one, in sequence and alphabetically, so that all four churches have a fair and equal opportunity of reopening.

This sequence also allows the four Easter Vestries to meet in sequence.

These first services take the form of the Parish Eucharist, although the chalice is still not being shared, and no-one should feel they have to receive. We can listen to the hymns without singing them. And shorter sermons are planned too.

For those who remain uncomfortable about coming to church, please do not be embarrassed or feel any compulsion. The Sunday sermons shall continue to be recorded and made available on YouTube, Facebook and through Patrick’s blog each week.

After these four weeks, hopefully, we may find it possible to return to the normal schedule of two services each Sunday. But let’s see how these first four weeks go before making future commitments.

Please ignore the proposed services listed in Newslink. This is the list of planned services for the immediate future, with readings and hymns:

Thursday 13 May, The Ascension Day:

11 am, The Festal Eucharist,
Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton

Readings: Acts 1: 1-11; Psalm 47; Luke 24: 44-53

Hymns: 259, Christ triumphant, ever reigning (CD 16); 634, Love divine, all loves excelling (CD 36).

Sunday 16 May, Easter VII:

11 am, The Parish Eucharist,
Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton
Followed by Askeaton Easter Vestry

Readings: Acts 1: 15-17, 21-26; Psalm 1; John 17: 6-19

Hymns: 461, For all thy saints, O Lord (CD 27); 518, Bind us together, Lord (CD 30).

Sunday 23 May, Pentecost (Whit Sunday):

11 am, The Parish Eucharist,
Castletown Church, Kilcornan
Followed by Castletown Easter Vestry

Readings: Acts 2: 1-21; Psalm 104: 26-36, 37b; John 15: 26-27, 16: 4b-15

Hymns: 386, Spirit of God, unseen as the wind (CD 23); 310, Spirit of the living God (CD 18)

Sunday 30 May, Trinity Sunday:

11 am, The Parish Eucharist,
Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale
Followed by Rathkeale Easter Vestry

Readings: Isaiah 6: 1-8; Psalm 29; John 3: 1-17

Hymns: 321, Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty (CD 19); 373, To God be the glory! Great things he has done! (CD 22)

Sunday 6 June, Trinity I:

11 am, The Parish Eucharist,
Saint Brendan’s Church, Tarbert (Kilnaughtin)
Followed by Tarbert (Kilnaughtin) Easter Vestry

Readings: I Samuel 8: 4-11, 16-20; Psalm 138; Mark 3: 20-35

Hymns: 522, In Christ there is no east or west (CD 30); 662, Those who would valour see (CD 38)

Patrick Comerford

Praying in Lent and Easter 2021:
83, Peterborough Cathedral

Peterborough Cathedral is known for its imposing Early English Gothic West Front with its three enormous arches (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During the Season of Easter this year, I am continuing my theme from Lent, taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

Sunday (9 May 2021) was the Sixth Sunday of Easter and later this week we celebrate Ascension Day. My photographs this week are selected from seven cathedrals throughout England. Earlier in these reflections, during Lent, I used images from Lichfield Cathedral (15 March 2021) and Coventry Cathedral (19 March). But these cathedrals, which I have visited in recent years, have been selected randomly.

This morning (10 May 2021), my photographs are from Peterborough Cathedral, which describes itself as ‘a holy place for over 1,300 years’ that ‘inspires awe and wonder in everyone who approaches the magnificent west front; even more so when they enter inside.’

Peterborough Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Andrew. The three arches forming the Great West Front are the defining image of the cathedral, unrivalled in mediaeval architecture.

This is also one of the early centres of Christianity in central England and one of the most important 12th-century buildings in England.

The statues of the cathedral’s three patrons, Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Andrew, look down from the three high gables of the West Front. Although the cathedral was founded in the Anglo-Saxon period, its architecture is mainly Norman, following a rebuilding in the 12th century.

Despite extensions and restorations over the centuries, this cathedral remains one of the most important 12th-century buildings in England to have remained largely intact in England, alongside the cathedrals in Durham and Ely.

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries at the Reformation, the great abbey church closed, its lands and properties were confiscated, and the collection of relics was dispersed, stolen or lost.

However, the abbey church survived because it was chosen by Henry VIII as the cathedral of the new Diocese of Peterborough in 1541, and the last Abbot of Peterborough, John Chambers, became the first Bishop of Peterborough.

The Diocese of Peterborough covers the northern half of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, and the counties of Northamptonshire and Rutland. Peterborough Cathedral was one of the last great churches to be built in the Romanesque style. The cathedral celebrated its 900th anniversary three years ago (2018).

Inside Peterborough Cathedral … one of the most important 12th-century buildings in England (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 15: 26 to 16: 4 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 26 ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

1 ‘I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. 3 And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. 4 But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them.

‘I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.’

The fan vault in the ‘New Building’ at the east end (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (10 May 2021) invites us to pray:

We pray for the work of leaders across the world church. May they work together to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The ceiling in the apse chapel was painted in 1856 to a design by Sir George Gilbert Scott and depicts Christ as the True Vine, with the apostles as the branches (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Peterborough Cathedral seen from the Guildhall (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)