I HEARD THE VOICE OF JESUS SAY – ‘Hymn for Thought for the Day’, Thursday, March 26th

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
‘Come unto me and rest;
lay down, thou weary one, lay down
thy head upon my breast:’
I came to Jesus as I was,
weary and worn and sad;
I found in him a resting-place,
and he has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
‘Behold I freely give
the living water, thirsty one;
stoop down and drink and live:’
I came to Jesus, and I drank
of that life-giving stream;
my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
and now I live in him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say
‘I am this dark world’s light;
look unto me, thy morn shall rise,
and all thy day be bright:’
I looked to Jesus, and I found
in him my star, my sun;
and in that light of life I’ll walk
till travelling days are done.

‘The Church’ is open, even though the ‘Churches’ are Closed – COVID-19

Canon Gary Philbrick, Rector of the Avon Valley Churches

Following the latest advice from the Gorvernment and the Church of England, very sadly our Church Buildings now have to remain closed until further note.

However, The Church is very much still open and working hard to maintain our patterns of Worship and Service in different ways.

Our Worship is broadcast every day at 10.00 – Services, sometimes including Communnion on Sundays, and a Thought for the Day on each of the other days.

These can be found via this website (Click on the FaceBook link – you don’t have to sign up for FaceBook), via the Avon Valley Churches FaceBook page, or via the Avon Valley Churches YouTube – just search for (you might have guessed by now!) Avon Valley Churches – and soon also via Twitter.

Do join us, join in, comment and share these Services.

We are also keeping in touch with our congregations via Care Companions (sometimes called ‘Care-Ring Coordinators’), by telephone, and by e-mail (you can sign up for our weekly newsletter, called ‘Partners’ from the front page of the website).

And we are part of the efforts in Fordingbridge and the surrounding villages to care for our wider communities, and especially those who are more vulnerable to the worst effects of Covid-19.

Do continue in Prayer with us, be in touch if there is any way in which we might be able to help, and contact us via the website if you need to know anything.

A Covid-19 Prayer, written by Canon Roly Riem, Vice-Dean at Winchester Cathedral:

Lord Jesus,
Who in your earthly life
Bore our grief and carried our sorrows,
Stand with us, we pray,
In our fear, distress and uncertainty.

Draw near to all who are suffering;
Strengthen those who care for them;
And guide those involved in research.

Lead us all, through the depths of the cross,
to the height and joy of resurrection.

COVID 19 – Interim advice

Dear All,

We are now in the next phase of Covid-19 planning, after the Government’s rather sudden announcement yesterday.

I hope by Thursday afternoon to send out definitive instructions, after consulting with staff and others, and when the C of E has updated its advice.

We’re thinking about what to do about Worship – it may be suspended altogether, depending on the C of E advice, and we are looking at ways in which a Service could be streamed – either from one of the Churches, or from a home.  There are various ways of doing this.

We’ll think about meetings, including the Annual Parish Celebrations – we’re looking at Zoom, as an online conferencing tool through which we can meet, and anyone can join in the conversation.

And we’re thinking about how we can offer appropriate pastoral and community care.

There may be other aspects of our life together which need thought, and which I haven’t considered yet.

As throughout this crisis, no one should feel under any pressure to do anything with which they are not comfortable; and we are taking the best advice we can find, without going overboard.

There will be ways in which we can continue to pray together, to serve our communities, and to deepen our own pilgrimages with God.

It may even be that a period of enforced leisure will allow us more time for reading, praying and thinking – which will be a good thing.

There will be many consequences for individuals, families, businesses, and schools – and we need to offer what support we can, and to pray for healing and safety in this difficult time.

I’ll put any further advice, on our website.

Thank you all.

Blessings and Best Wishes,
Revd Canon Gary Philbrick,

Rector of the Avon Valley Churches

Lockdown, Richard Hendrick

March 13th, 2020 – Another thoughtful poem about Covid-19.

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
so that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul.
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again,
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
and though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,