From Rev Felicity Al-Hassan

August 2020

 

Hello Everyone,

The words of the Wesleys’ hymn, ‘And are we yet alive, and see each other’s face? Glory and praise to Jesus give for his redeeming grace!’ (STF 456) comes to mind as I look back on the dark times we’ve been through.

We’ve come a long way since the days of complete lockdown at the height of the Coronavirus threat when the dismal count of people succumbing to the virus and worse dying from it made even our own survival seem doubtful. 

What worrying weeks and months those were and yet what glimpses of positivity in the ways we supported one another through simple acts of love: by a phone call, an email, an offer of help to one another and to our neighbours and above all in prayer. We may have been physically separated but we remained and continued united in faith as the Body of Christ both here and throughout the world. Together that is a powerful force of prayer and source of hope for ourselves and others.

I’m delighted and comforted that as we step into September a month which represents re-openings and returns: the academic year, the return to work after holidays and for us as Methodists, the beginning of a new Connexional year we are able to do so at a time when the doors to our church building is once again open to welcome and receive all who wish to come in.  Glory and Praise to Jesus give, indeed!

For the last 2 weeks we’ve been open on a Wednesday from 12.30 – 2pm welcoming all to a God-place and time to sit and think in silence, to spend in meditation or private prayer.  It is heartening to see that people are taking up that invitation and coming in.  And it was even more satisfying when I got a call the other day from the library wanting to know whether we were open, to be able to confirm affirmatively that, “Yes we are open and welcome everyone.”

This is our vital witness and mission to our larger Community.  Often we might underestimate the mission and light of hope we represent, particularly as there’s a tendency to link it to volumes of people coming in.  But even if we are able to provide just one person a place to come to when they are feeling weary and burdened, ‘great will be the rejoicing in heaven’!

At such a time as this it is important to remember that more than any other social institution, as a church we greatly represent God’s light, hope and welcome to all.

As we reopen though we do so with the greatest of caution taking into account all government guidelines for our health and safety and implementing these in the church and premises to the best of our ability.  This means you will find many changes as you return to the building. 

Seating has been arranged at 2m spacing.  Sanitiser units for cleansing of hands are positioned prominently throughout the building, please use these frequently not least on entering and leaving the building. 

A sign-in sheet for ‘Test and Trace’ purposes will be in the foyer; please do fill this in with your details.  Additionally there is a one-directional flow of traffic in force throughout the building.  We will encourage all coming in to use the ramp access on Gloucester road and vacate using the Clarendon road exit doors.

Face coverings also have to be used for the length of time you are on the premises.  We urge you to bring your own.  You will also need to come equipped with your own bible, hymnbook or any other printed resource you’d like to use during your time of prayer or meditation.

We look forward to resuming Sunday worship around the 3rd week of September. For this too there will be strict guidelines to follow which no doubt will have an impact on the feeling of worship and fellowship. One of the initial measures will be a booking system. For those with computer access this can be done online but you’re welcome to use the telephone otherwise.  The good news is guidelines keep changing all the time and we hope to see more restrictions being eased.

Coming back into more social contact after the times we’ve been through poses its challenges particularly as the virus has not entirely disappeared.  It is understandable that not everyone will feel able to make that step for many good reasons.  I hope no one will feel under any pressure to do anything they are not quite ready for.  Services of worship and fellowship opportunities will continue to be offered online and via zoom.

We are in this together and we are not alone, for God who loves us more than we can ever know or understand is with us and will help us quite through.  So may we embrace this time with renewed faith, joy and strength trusting in God always and continue to love and serve one another in the best Christian love.

Glory and praise to Jesus.

With prayer and best wishes
Felicity

 

 


Redhill Methodist Church, Gloucester Road, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 1BP
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