Chair of the House of Laity, Hugh Richards, shares his experience of worshipping with others while in 'lockdown'.
I expect many of you, like me, will have been ‘upping’ your use of social media and technology during the ‘lockdown’ to access the fabulous variety of worship, prayers, music, reflections and ‘vlogs’ available in the Diocese. I noticed that our Resourcing Churches have produced some excellent offerings and parish churches great and small have also taken the plunge.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been attending services across the Diocese, sometimes ‘live’ and sometimes at a more convenient time. Easter Sunday morning saw me having breakfast at Bishop John and H-J’s house and peeling potatoes at Pershore Abbey, before retiring to my ipad for an evening gin and tonic at Top Church! I am looking forward to visiting other churches over the next few weeks and experiencing a variety of forms and expressions of worship that I have never experienced before.
But it is not only our church services that have been revolutionised. Church communities have taken a lead in pastoral care – WhatsApp groups (other media is available!) allow us to keep a benevolent eye on each other, keep spirits up and make sure the vulnerable in all sections of our secular communities are able to access the food and medicines they need. Those who are not ‘technology savvy’ have not been forgotten – they will have appreciated phone calls or a ‘shout out’ through an open window. But if you have an old smartphone gathering dust in a drawer, give a thought as to whether it might be just the thing to get someone else onto your WhatsApp group. I have even been able to talk my mother though setting up Zoom on her tablet which she only hitherto used to get emails and photos of the grandchildren!
In Luke, chapter 10, a lawyer (like me!) asked Jesus: “who is my neighbour?” He got the answer we all know in the parable of the Good Samaritan. For us lay-people, important ‘neighbours’ who need our prayers and care are our clergy. Leadership can be a lonely place, particularly at a time of crisis. Our clergy have shown amazing leadership during Holy Week. As Chair of the House of Laity, I have written to them thanking them on behalf of us all .
This period of lockdown has some time to run – don’t forget to keep an eye on your clergy; and hold them in your prayers.
Hugh Richards, Chair of the House of Laity