We had a wonderful Easter at St Chrysostom’s!
So many people, those who came to church, and those who joined online have said so. First of all I would like to thanks everyone who worked so hard to make it so. This was our team work at its best. I am thinking not only of those who took part in worship – musicians, readers – and how lovely to see a full serving team again on Easter Day. I am thinking of those who helped prepared. It was a beautiful sign of Easter, for me, to come in on the Saturday evening before the Vigil of Easter to discover Ann and Marie had been into church and done such beautiful flowers, then there were those who had cleaned and ensured we were ‘safe’ for worship, and of course those who attended. And attendance was not only in person. The people who participated online and all who sent messages of encouragement – so many encouraged us.
This, for me, was a sign of Easter itself. New hope, new life in a difficult situation. When we began the Easter Triduum at the Maundy Thursday Mass, at the beginning I looked round and thought – there a fewer than in previous years. Of course there were, it’s early days in the easing off of the restrictions, and people are rightly, and properly cautious. But then I looked again and counted how many we were as the Mass began – 13! Well, I thought thats a very special number for this evening as at the Last Supper that’s how many sat down to supper. The number grew a little that evening, but nevertheless I felt a point had been made to me – and it was a very hopeful one!
Then at Easter Day itself, despite the sad fact the people are not yet permitted to sing, there was a wonderful sense of joy and hope shared. We love the ‘sensual’ in our worship at St C’s. So it was lovely to see people we hadn’t seen in some cases for nearly a year, it was lovely to smell once again the swirling incense, to hear the Regina Coeli sung out by the cantors as Mass ended. God blessed us. We could indeed say ‘Alleluia. Christ is Risen!’
I am proud of St Chrysostom’s people and what they have done in the pandemic days, and what they continue to do. People have looked to one another, kept in touch and for those who are able to join in Zoom meetings it has been a blessing for them. Our online presence by worship and Facebook group connections have helped keep us together.
At the same time being together at Mass is the heart and source of our church life. On Easter Day the joy of those present in Church, the joy shared by those following online was encouraging to us all. It was also a joy to welcome new people among us. Part of our tradition is giving a good inclusive welcome to those who come for the first time, whoever they are. On Easter Day it was lovely to see new people among us.
Our church Standing Committee has met recently and we are forming plans as together we look to the future. A future which will not be quite the same as the past – we have learned through the pandemic, after all.
The Standing Committee hope we can do some things around church itself to enrich our holy space – not least through some painting at high levels, tidying, church grounds work. We also want our church to reach out in its welcome – especially to the trafficked, and the marginalised., as well as reaching out online.
With this all in mind the Standing Committee has launched a special appeal in these days, called the 2021 appeal. We are asking people who wish to do some fundraising and we are inviting generous contributions to the fund to get it going. Money given is earmarked for improving our church.
More about the appeal soon, meanwhile give thanks for the signs of Easter at St C’s and share the joy!