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A block drawing of a church

9 August 2020: Preaching in churchA wooden lectern bearing a cross

This afternoon it was the turn of my wife and myself to supervise the church while it was open from 2:30 until 4. Only one person came for private prayer. She has been a church member since she was a child.

It is possible only one person came because of the Evening Prayer being held in the church afterwards. This was the second time we have held Evening Prayer in the church since the start of the lockdown. One of my colleagues led the service and I preached and led the prayers.

We have had to introduce new restrictions in order to keep everyone safe. Everyone has to book in advance and use the hand sanitiser on the way in. One of our churchwardens is on duty to check them against the list as they arrive and make sure they use the sanitiser. Worshippers have to sit at opposite ends of alternate pews, with only those in the same “bubble” allowed to sit together.

Of course, now we all have to wear face coverings. We have some disposable masks available for those who have forgotten to bring their own. Those leading the service and preaching use face shields so their faces can be seen, although the latest guidance from the Church of England say that no face coverings need be worn by those leading, preaching and reading the lessons. We are not allowed to preach from the pulpit because of fears the higher elevation will cause any droplets to reach the congregation. Music is permitted but no one is allowed to sing. (As it happens, we stopped having hymns at Evening Prayer some years ago.)

We hit a slight hiccough when the reader got up to read the second lesson. She hadn’t realised there would not be a bible for her to read from; everyone is supposed to bring their own. Fortunately I had the reading printed out in the folder I was using, so she was able to borrow that.

The problem with wearing a face shield is that everything looks somewhat distorted. I managed to find the right angle to hold my folder so I could read it without too much trouble.

I talked about the healing miracles in the New Testament, particularly those where people had been cured of conditions they had had since birth, such as lameness, deafness and blindness. I pointed out that after their healing they were not as they had been but as the should have been? Are we praying for the world to come out of this Covid-19 crisis as it was or as it should have been?