To all Parishioners:
Dear Friends – Like you I am delighted to see real signs of the end of the Covid pandemic. Yesterday's announcement by the Taoiseach was however far more radical than most of us expected.
On a personal level I am very happy at the accelerated removal of restrictions which among other things will allow congregational singing once again. This is a most welcome development as it is a vital element of Anglican worship. I think it is ony right that at this point we thank all our organists and choirs who have made music on our behalf during these difficult days as we now look forward to joining with them once again.
Also welcome will be the return to Holy Communion in both kinds (both bread and wine), the physical exchange of the Peace, the freedom to sit next to our friends from other households, the end of signing in at the church door and in time the end of mask wearing.
I am conscious that there are some, perhaps many who are more reticent about the sudden return to 'business as usual' and I believe we must respect those concerns in how we respond to the relaxation of restrictions. We went into this pandemic together and we must come out of it together. We are the Body of Christ and every member matters.
It may be that the thought of sitting in a church at close proximity to others and without the protection of masks will be too much for some of our parishioners. Some will be afraid of shaking hands or getting a hug from a well meaning friend or catching covid from a shared chalice and many who are medically vulnerable or have family members in that category will be doing all that they can to avoid infection.
In the light of this I would suggest that for the next few weeks (not indefinitely) we continue to wear masks. They are not now legally mandated but they are reccomended and for the sake of those who in a maskless context will be uncomfortable coming to church I ask that where possible you wear a mask. Also while social distancing is not now mandated let us all give each other enough space to feel comfortable (Including at the exchange of the Peace) – For better or worse our churches are far bigger than our current numbers and so this is very possible.
Regarding Holy Communion – I propose to continue with distribution in one kind only (bread wafer) for the next few weeks.
I am optimistic that as we move into February these remaining measures can fall away but hopefully holding back a little for each others sake will allow all of to transition together into a new and better future.
For those who for whatever reason cannot attend church services there will continue to be a recording of one of the Sunday services available on YouTube on Sunday afternoons. (Link will be posted on parish website cs-nl.org)
And so after nearly 2 years of muted congregations it seems appropriate to end with the opening verse of Psalm 96: 'Let us sing a new song unto the Lord!'
NB: Church Services at usual times tomorrow (Sunday 23rd Jan)
The following Sunday (30th January) United service of Holy Communion in Christ Church Celbridge at 11.30am – No services in Newcastle or Straffan on 30th January)