Dear Brothers and Sisters,
When we all return to Mass after this latest lockdown, one of the first things you will notice is our splendid new notice board by the main entrance, and an equally lovely, though smaller, one, near the entrance to the hall. These were erected in memory of David Willis, funded by a legacy from him and a generous donation from his nephew John. David was always very keen on publicising the church’s activities and the new noticeboards are an excellent way of doing this.
The main notice board was designed by our architect Marcus Beale working from a photograph of the original noticeboard of the church and I’m sure you will agree that it greatly enhances the approach to the church. I am particularly grateful to Chris and Roger who worked very hard over the past few years to bring this project to its completion, dealing with the architect, arranging the faculty and doing all the other things necessary for the noticeboards’ construction. I hope passers-by will be able to get a much better idea of all that goes on in our church. It is a great pity that the pandemic and government rules and regulations limit just what we are at present able to do.
As I write, the Prime Minister has announced that churches may reopen for communal worship after the lockdown ends on 2nd December. However, many details remain to be clarified. It is still not known, for example, when congregational singing will be allowed again. Elsewhere on this website we give details of our planned Christmas services but in some cases these are subject to satisfactory risk assessments and therefore subject to possible change.
Of course, it is not just in this country that communal worship has been disrupted in recent months. Many of you will remember Shirley Egan who worshipped with us for some time before returning to Australia. She has recently found our Facebook page and given it a ‘like’. I contacted her through Facebook Messenger and she replied “Great to hear from you Christopher, my friends at All Saints have been very much in my heart especially over the last few weeks. Like you we are in lock down (now able to go to church with communion in little prepacked disposable cups). We do have worship as well as broadcasting our services. Just recently they have increased the number of people allowed in church but bookings are essential – the new normal. Give my love to everyone at All Saints and let them know they are always in my heart, mind and prayers.”
By the time we meet in church again we will be in the season of Advent. Advent is a time of waiting. You may well feel that much of this year has been a time of waiting, – waiting for lockdowns to end, waiting to be able to meet friends and families again, waiting to find an online delivery slot, waiting for a vaccine to be found. The first lockdown began on 23rd March, two days before the Annunciation, and in the lead up to Christmas we might think of ourselves as having waited since then just as the Blessed Virgin Mary waited those nine months for the birth of her Son.
But in the four weeks of Advent we compress into that short period of time not just the gestation of Christ; rather for four weeks we share as well in the waiting of the prophets who for centuries had foretold the coming of the Messiah. But more than that; we wait also for the promised Second Coming of Christ foretold in our Gospel readings during the past few weeks of Ordinary Time, the Second Coming for which Christians have been waiting through two thousand years. Advent is a period of hope and expectation, that same hope and expectation that has sustained us during the pandemic.
I hope that you all have a very happy and holy Christmas.