The Rev’d Lorna D Brabin-Smith
Rector of Branston with Nocton and Potterhanworth
The Rectory, 19 Abel Smith Gardens, Branston LN4 1NN
(01522) 794-868 or email@example.com
Friday March 20th 2020
These are strange times!
We are facing a very serious situation – and life just now seems rather uncertain and perplexing. Many people understandably feel anxious and afraid. But at the same time many individuals and organisations are stepping up and taking action to help, locally as well as nationally.
Our local authorities are bringing their emergency plans into action, and will be working hard to make sure that people are safe and well – especially those who are most vulnerable.
All three of our villages have community groups being set up to co-ordinate help: getting in touch with people who need help, liaising with people who can offer help.
As churches we will also be playing our part – liaising with local authorities and community groups and continuing our practical, pastoral care and spiritual care.
This past Tuesday we had a meeting for our pastoral visiting team at Branston in the diary. So we invited representatives from some of the three villages’ social groups plus Cllr Peter Lundgren. We talked through many of the common issues and thought about the risks people are facing now and in the coming weeks.
The advice on the precautions we all need to take remains the same:
- regularly wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water and dry them thoroughly
- if you can’t wash your hands, use a sanitizing hand-gel (at least 60% alcohol)
- avoid touching your face – do not touch your mouth, eyes or nose
- cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the crook of your arm, not into your hands
- keep your distance from other people – at least 2 metres or 7 feet
- keep up with the usual hygiene routines at home
Wash your hands
Wash your hands thoroughly, with soap and warm water – a rinse under a cold tap is not enough. Wash them ‘hospital style’ – front and back, inter-lacing your fingers, between your fingers, every finger and thumb, your finger-tips and nails, rub your palm with your finger tips. Take some time over it – at least 20 seconds. If you are going out, wash your hands when you leave home, and wash them again when you return. Wash your hands if you have been in contact with surfaces outside your home that other people have touched.
Use hand gel
If you can’t wash your hands then use a sanitizing hand gel. Again make sure you cover every surface of your hands. It needs to be a sanitizing hand gel containing at least 60% alcohol. We are dealing with a virus, so antibacterial hand washes and wipes won’t help. And if you’ve used a hand gel, still wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water as soon as you can.
Avoid touching your face
The virus can’t do you any harm if it’s on your skin. The danger comes if you transfer it from your skin into your body via your eyes, nose or mouth. So don’t lick your fingers, poke your eyes or pick your nose! And make sure you’ve washed your hands before you eat.
Coughs and sneezes
It’s best to try not to cough or sneeze – but sometimes these things can’t be prevented. So don’t use your hand: use a tissue to cover your mouth, or cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm. Then, when you can, wash your clothes. If you use a tissue, don’t leave it in your pocket – bin it. At home, put it into a plastic bag and then when the bag is full, dispose of it all in the general household rubbish bin.
Keep your distance (also known as ‘social distancing’)
We’ve already stopped shaking hands, hugging or kissing - to avoid the risk of spreading the virus if someone has it.
But the other way the virus can be transferred from one person to another is by the tiny droplets of saliva that leave our mouths when we speak (or cough or sneeze). We all do this, all the time. Normally it’s not a problem. Normally it’s part of what keeps us healthy - it’s a way of sharing the normal bugs around so that we can all build up an immunity.
But in this case the virus can make people very ill. So to reduce the risk of transferring it from one person to another we keep our distance – trying to maintain 2 metres or about 7 feet from one another. Which can feel rather strange, but a very good thing to do at the moment.
Keep up with normal hygiene routines
Just because we’re concerned about the Coronavirus doesn’t mean that we should relax our normal routines at home. Washing hands after using the toilet. Keeping bathroom and kitchen surfaces clean. Making sure food is prepared properly and cooked thoroughly. We can do without upset stomachs, or what my mum would have called ‘the backyard trots’.
What are we doing?
As you probably know by now, public worship has been suspended in all of our churches. But worship continues, our worship here on earth, and the worship of heaven. We are all still part of the one everlasting communion of saints.
Even if we’re not meeting together, we are all still part of the same local church community. Even if we can’t shake hands to share the peace, we are all still embraced by the love of God. And even if we can’t chat over a cup of coffee after church we are still surrounded by that ‘cloud of witnesses’ who cheer us on.
‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us
also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of* the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.’
To help us continue worshipping together I’m sending you a copy of Morning Prayer and Night Prayers (Compline) produced by the Church of England for this time. You could use it every day. And especially on Sundays. Read it out loud!
Meanwhile, I will be saying Morning Prayer in our churches as usual: 8.45am on Tuesday mornings at Branston, Wednesdays at Nocton, Thursdays back at Branston, Fridays at Potterhanworth. There’s no reason why other people shouldn’t join me – we can sit well apart. And we don’t need to have any conversation with each other.
And I plan to say Morning Prayer in our churches on Sunday mornings – at the same times as we would normally have a service.
And our three churches will be open during the week, so that people can call in. They might want to pray, have a look round or simply enjoy a chance to get out of the house!
- All Saints Branston will be open every day of the week from 2.00 to 4.00pm
- All Saints Nocton will be open every Saturday from 2.00 to 4.00pm
- St Andrew’s Potterhanworth is open every day anyway.
Keeping in touch
So each week I plan to send out a Sunday ‘bulletin’ which will include the gospel and collect for the Sunday, a picture and a reflection. Plus other prayers, news and advice.
This first edition is being delivered by hand, along with this letter. Future editions will be emailed and hand-delivered if I can’t email you. So please let me have your email address if you think I might not already have it (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
What can you do to help?
At the moment or in the weeks ahead you may be in full quarantine - because you or someone in your household has the symptoms: raised temperature and/or a new persistent cough. Or you may be self-isolating because you or someone in your household is over 70 or has an underlying health problem that makes you more vulnerable. Or you may simply be keeping at home most of the time and taking the precaution of social-distancing as much as possible.
Either way there are things you can do to help:
- if you order your groceries on-line, you could offer to get groceries for your neighbours. Even if you don’t have a slot for a couple of weeks that would help them get in some of the basics and help give them peace of mind.
- if you are confined to home you could still be part of a ‘keeping in touch’ network, arranging to phone one or two people on a regular basis (Please let Sue Spencer know if you’d like to do this: email@example.com or phone 823-947.)
- if you’re not confined to home you could do a bit of spring-cleaning in church or a little tidying up of the churchyard – you don’t need to get close to anyone else if you’re working on your own. We’ll produce a list of jobs so you know what to do. (Please let me know if you’d like to do this: firstname.lastname@example.org or 794-868.)
- and if you’re not confined to home you could help with the delivery of these bulletins each week (Please let me know if you’d like to do that: email@example.com or 794-868). You won’t have to have contact with anyone if you’d prefer not to – just post through their letter-box.
If you’re not in quarantine nor self-isolating there are some other things you could help with. So please let Sue Spencer know if you can help with any of these:
- visiting people at home
- doing shopping or collecting prescriptions for people confined to home
- delivering ready-cooked meals, for example, provided by one of the local pubs
- volunteering through the local community group
- ‘church sitting’ – unlocking/locking up and being around while our churches are open (at Branston and Nocton) – you could combine this with doing some spring-cleaning, reading a book or some other work. You wouldn’t have to have close contact with any visitors. We’re working on rotas for this – Nocton is already sorted for the next few months, please let Barbara know if you could help at Branston.
There will be other things you can do to help in the weeks ahead. And more advice and information from us. And we’ll be working out what we can do about home communion.
If you need help
It may be that you could do with some help: shopping, collecting prescriptions, books from the library, having cooked meals brought in. Or getting the information and advice you need. Or simply a friendly chat on the phone if you’re not able to have visitors. We can help with all of these, or if we can’t – we know people who can!
So please get in touch: Rev’d Sue Spencer is going to be our main point of contact for people needing help and for people offering help among the churches. Email her on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 823-947.
Whoever we are, wherever we are, whatever the circumstance, we can and should all pray – for our communities, for those on the front-line, for the most vulnerable.
And a reminder: whatever happens in these coming weeks, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
God doesn’t ever promise that life will be straight forward, easy or painless. But he does promise to be with us through thick and thin. As St Paul wrote to the church in Rome, when they were facing tough times through persecution:
‘What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
(Romans 8:31,35 and 37-39)