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July 2020

This month’s letter comes from Father Steven:

‘Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” (Genesis 28:16).  This verse is often heard during services which celebrate the dedication of a church—the actual dedication after the church building is finished, or on the yearly anniversary. Jacob realises that the Lord is there with him and says ‘this is none other than the house of God!’.  Our churches are meant to be houses of prayer; God’s house, where we can feel and know that he is with us.

During this period of intense restriction and lockdown, we haven’t been able to go to God’s house. Yet the prayers and worship of the church has continued, not least in our homes. ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’ During lockdown, rather than go to God’s house, people have invited God into their home and have been surprised at how close they have felt to him. As thoughts turn to God, so comes the realisation that he is always there for us wherever we are, waiting on us to share the ups and downs, or even the ordinary day-to-day. 

God comes to us.  Many people have told me how they have found spaces at home where they have been able to pray as they have in church, places where they have felt the Lord beside them. Our homes, out of necessity, have become our churches. Although I was very glad to be back in church a few weeks ago to celebrate the Eucharist there again, it was sad to be dismantling the make-shift altar in our dining room. It made me appreciate, like Jacob awaking from his dream, that the Lord is everywhere, if we did but know it.

Our church buildings are now open for private prayer and soon, if the situation continues to ease, we shall be able to begin inviting people to take part in services. This is all good, but I hope that although we will be back in our beautiful, spiritual church buildings, we shall continue to know God to be with us at home, and continue to pray as often and deeply at home as we can in church.

Your parish church is God’s house. It is also your house and is there for you as a spiritual home and you are welcome there.  Please continue to pray wherever you are. When we pray, either at home, in church, in the car, on a walk—truly the Lord is in that place. Open your heart to him in trust and honesty and he will come to you. 

Please pray especially for those suffering from the virus, for those who have died and their families, and for all those caring for the sick, elderly and vulnerable.  

With every blessing,

Fr Steven

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