Now that the Covid-19 has made its way into the Hunter region, new procedures are being implemented to help contain the virus.
Most notably from our point of view, public worship and events at St Mary’s Church and Hall are suspended until further notice.
Our institutional life as a parish is going to take an enormous hit from this crisis. Nevertheless, I want us to emerge from it stronger than ever in terms of our spiritual lives and our sense of belonging together in Christ. So these are the two areas of our life that I want to focus on in this letter:
1: Our spiritual life and sense of belonging.
Our spiritual life is grounded in our relationship with Christ and our membership together in his body, the Church (1 Cor 12). We all have a role to play in our spiritual nurture and pastoral care. From the Bishop to the youngest teen or frailest elder we need each other just as the hand or eye needs the foot or ear.
It is our plan that during this crisis every member of our parish will be kept in communication and connected with the other parishioners to whom we belong in Christ. We will care for one another pastorally by being listeners to one another. It is a time to strengthen human connections with acts of kindness and solidarity as we live through the shared experience of social distancing.
It is our plan that everyone will have access to devotional and study aids that will nurture their prayer life and spiritual growth. As a hub of communication and pastoral care the Parish Council has a special role to play, but we rely on every member of the Body of Christ to look to and pray for the health of the whole Body.
2: Our Institutional life
We are now unable to gather for worship, fellowship and for the fundraising activities that sustain our institutional life. The next Bulletin will include devotional resources and links to on-line worship opportunities. It will take a few days to get this together.
We also need to be assured that our direct giving is sustained in a healthy way. If you give by Direct Debit please continue this. If you normally give by way of cash please consider converting this to a Direct Debit. Treasurer Malcolm Knight can tell you how to do this (0402 853 765). Our expenses are ongoing. We intend to manage our way through this crisis so that we are in a position of strength when we emerge from it.
We are all anxious. Many are very anxious. Please phone me without hesitation if I can serve you in any way. Pray for that peace which the world cannot give. Pray for one another.
On the weekend, may I suggest that at the time of the eucharist you normally attend, you travel by prayer and imagination to the moment of Communion. I will be doing this with you.
Receive Christ into your heart just as really as if the eucharist were being placed in your hands.
You might pray this prayer: We do not presume to come to your table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table. But you are the same Lord whose nature is always to have mercy. Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen. Receive Christ and say these familiar words: I come to take the Body and Blood of Christ in remembrance that he died for me, and I feed on him in my heart by faith, with thanksgiving.
With every blessing, Fr Stephen Williams Having the Pastoral Care of St Mary’s Maitland 0412 661 585 <firstname.lastname@example.org>