Communique 5th January 2021
To the Parish of St. Nicholas Laindon with Dunton
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
Parishioners and members of St. Nicholas Church here in Laindon.
In view of the government’s announcement regarding new restrictions and strong advice from the Diocese to move our services online, there will be some changes in the way we operate as a Church.
We are yet to assess the damage that will follow. Undoubtedly it will follow and is already happening - terrible implications of financial, spiritual, mental, physical, social harms, affecting all levels and the very fabric of our society.
These are challenging and difficult times when the faith and firm commitment of every member of the Church is tested to the limits. Sadly, we have already seen how so many Churchgoers across the country are losing interest, as their worship routines and habits are broken or disrupted, and they are becoming almost indifferent to meeting, praying and ministering together as a fellowship in Christ.
It is simply heartbreaking to see those who were once passionate about Jesus and have even tasted the powers of the age to come in their lifetime, who are now at a distance and drifting away from the church. This is nothing less than a real tragedy.
But there is nothing new under the sun. In the days of the early Church, it was always endangered from within through division and compromise, and threatened from outside by persecution and immorality, by the siren calls of the culture of the day, and the troubles of life. Doesn’t this sound familiar? Yet here we are, two thousand years later - and the Church still stands for Christ. So will we, as St Nicholas’ Church, still stand for Christ?
With this in mind, I call upon those who trust God not to be discouraged but to persevere and remain faithful to the Lord in His Body which is the Church, and “not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.” - Hebrews 10:25
Please stay strong, pray, never despair and above all, stay within the congregation.
Cling to it as a drowning man clings to a rock when the sea threatens to overwhelm him.
Do not leave the fellowship, because it will be the poorer without even just one of us.
I am pleading with you. Let us stay together. It is more vital to stay together now, at the time of this crisis, than at any other time. Jesus says to all of us: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” - Mark 2:17
We, as a Church need more than ever to be active right now. Can we not recognize that our faith is so important and so precious in such a time as this? Jesus even said that we would have troubles, but that all would be well as long as we stayed close to Him, abiding in His power and not our own. Therefore, let us be more vibrant, alive, united together and raise our voices and offer people comfort and the message of salvation. This is our time! Will we run towards the battle, or away from it? If we are truly His followers and hear His voice, there should be no doubt as to our answer. Where else can we go? Only the Lord Jesus has the words of eternal life – John 6:68.
However difficult it might be, let us remember that our hope and our future is the Lord and in all times of human history those who trusted the Lord were saved, blessed, and could look to the future without fear.
We can’t go over this problem, we can’t go under it, so we’ve got to go through it.
And only together will we be able to achieve that.
Remember that we have such a wonderful, merciful Lord.
Even the death of Christ, which at the time it happened looked like the end of the good news, led to His glorious resurrection and was the means that opened up for us the way of salvation.
As children of our Heavenly Father, children who live in His light, it is both our duty and our joy to follow our Lord and stay faithful to Him, with our hearts and minds always lifting up in praise to His presence.
We also have a duty to care for our neighbour - to care for vulnerable, suffering people who are struggling in either “self-isolation” or “shielding” or simply those who are lonely and losing hope.
In these testing days ahead, we are called to offer those around us hope, positivity, spiritual encouragement, helping people to endure and even to overcome the challenges of these stressful times.
We should remember that nothing is happening without the will of God - “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
So how are we going to achieve it in practice?
Our Sunday Services
We are intending to move our services online with only a handful attending Sunday worship to help with essential elements of the Divine Service like readings, prayers, recording and cleaning. If anyone feels called to such a role of helping please contact me for advice.
Private Prayers in the Church
The church will remain open for those who wish to come and say private prayers. That will be done only by appointment.
Mental and Spiritual Support Group
We will continue to keep our Mental and Spiritual Support Group sessions going, but it will be on request and is likely to also be online. Please follow our website. It will be updated regularly.
Bible Study Group
Bible Study will move online and will take place every Tuesday night at 7pm.
Apart from being very important as the means to deepen our faith and strengthen our commitment, these meetings are essential as they provide us with connections and a way to maintain our fellowship and friendship regularly.
As an essential worker I am allowed to offer people counsel and encouragement, and I am always praying for each and every one of you. Please be assured of that. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly for prayer requests. At this time I am not sure if it is possible to organize any face to face meetings as the rules are contradictory, confusing and constantly changing. But the gospel cannot be chained, and even a telephone/WhatsApp/zoom conversation might be helpful at this time.
Links and information on all our meetings will be posted on our new website, and updated regularly, so please visit it for more information.
Please utilize our Parish WhatsApp group, call each other, pray for each other, share news and organize online meetings.
Finally, brothers and sisters, using the words of St. Paul: “whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ……practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
Yours in Christ
Fr. Andrei Petrine
Priest in Charge
St. Nicholas Laindon with Dunton
5 January 2021