What if gatherings of under 10 people were allowed in the Autumn?
What would this mean for our gathering in worship and prayer? What would it mean for Eucharistic worship? how could those still isolated be part of any gathering for worship that may begin?
The first thing that must be said is that here in our rural benefice we are used to gathering in small groups. I joke that ‘there is always twelve’, at our gatherings and groups. Across all that we do and the variation of people who attend weekly or monthly that is a considerable number of people but not all at once. So what could this limitation on numbers look like for our lives in the Parishes that builds on what we already have but recognises that some things will have to change.
I don’t want to preempt many of the long term effects of this crisis in these musing but look just to maybe September. I also would like to see this as an opportunity to create things that we love to do, events that are foundational to our lived discipleship and that offer a brave new freshness to our offering to the communities we live in. This is just new shoots, who knows the shape of the plant that will grow!
We could offer daily week day communion services along the lines of the Wednesday morning services that some people have found so encouraging in the past. These could be at 10am in a rotation round the churches and people could book to come or attend as a regular. They would be a said service of a maximum of 35mins and vary in feel and liturgy as the groups desired and in collaboration.
NOTE… I dont think that resuming Sunday morning worship would be good for a while. With a limited number of people allowed this might prove to be very painful for those who cant attend. I suggest that one of the midweek services is recorded and put out on line on a Sunday and the community gathers around this in solidarity with those who we love and cant yet commune with.It would also be wonderful if home communion could resume during the week.
We could resume our theology, book and prayer groups in the evenings if we wished with people booking in to come so numbers could be managed.
Morning prayer could resume in the churches… lay led and using different liturgies if wished, having a diversity of tone.
Saturday evening meals. Drawing on the tradition of the Sabbath when a celebration meal is shared before entering in to 24hrs of ‘practicing the art of rest’. These meals could be themed and act as a substitute for Ecochurch and coffee gatherings. They could include times of discussion and even sharing of crafts in the form of an ‘after dinner speaker’ and would contain agape prayers similar to the ones I have shared on the blog. They could happen weekly in different parts of the Benefice with people booking to come to just one a month. They should be lay lead and created and utilize the wonderful facilities that we have.
I boldly add the thought that this would leave us with Sunday as a completely free day!!!!!!!! A day of REST a Sabbath unto the Lord. This could be a day when we take all that we have learnt in this time isolation and withdraw from society, commerce and the digital world…. imagine the discipline and joy of that.