Greetings to you all again.
This must surely be the strangest July any of us have known.
I hope you are managing to stay sane and to cope with all the uncertainty. I pray that God will give us all the serenity to act when we have to and not to worry unreasonably about things beyond our control. The Americans will be struggling to put up their flags for the |Fourth of July, and the increase in outbreaks there of COVID-19 remind us that the epidemic is not over, and we must still stay safe.
The gospel for the fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary time (not very ordinary) quotes Jesus saying those famous words pleading with us, challenging us, to trust him.
“Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Our burdens become easier and lighter because we invite him to carry them with us. The astrophysicist Prof. Brian Cox presents us on the TV with mind-stretching ideas of the vastness of space and time, and theologians invite us to enlarge our notion of God the Creator, so that like the holy man Job, we desist from telling God how he should be managing his universe. We just thank and praise him for honoring us human beings by sending Jesus as one of us.
Many of you will have been scanning down these words to come to the bit about plans for re-opening the church. Safety assessments have been carried out. The ‘one metre’ social distancing carries with it so many extra restrictions as to be impracticable. Masks would have to be worn by everyone, for example. Two metre distancing limits the numbers in our church to 24. We will acquire the sanitizer and other personal protection, but the next date for action here will be August 1 at the earliest. Cleaning the church before and after use remains an important factor.
It will mainly be just wiping hard surfaces like tops of seats. I have had one volunteer so far. Compare other parishes – in Northwich they are having ten Masses this weekend. By all means go there if you must! Baguley opened up for prayer last week and four people came. We can carefully monitor how pubs and restaurants go on this week, and whether the number of cases of infection increases. Like Sainsbury’s and their customers, the safety of our parishioners is our prime consideration. Things are NOT getting back to ‘normal’.
I have offered Mass for the Heffernan family and for the repose of the soul of Margaret Coffey. I received a report from Churches Together saying that things are going well with their combined efforts to ‘Leave No One Behind’, and I congratulate and thank those of you who have so generously been involved in this work. I sympathize with all who have to organise re-opening of their business; with all the medical workers who still have to put their health and even lives at risk day after day; and inevitably there will have been some of you whose very jobs are on the line. Please God the children will be safe in school, and they and the adults working at home will be able to manage.
Fr Tony Elder