As you will be aware, the pandemic is not yet in retreat and the country remains in strict lockdown. The Corona committee have met and, having studied the documentation from the national Dutch Church, we believe we have no choice but to continue to only hold services online. I know that this will a major disappointment to you and you may individually disagree with this approach, but with the R Number still running very high, we have to think of the whole church community. We do not wish to place the community in danger.
On a personal note, having moved post, house and country to be with you, I am obviously extremely keen that we open up the church at the earliest opportunity! I had hoped that we would be able to open up for Holy week. It is my deepest desire that the church reopens.
The words of Psalm 42 come to mind. The psalmist is in exile and recalls being with a throng in the temple celebrating a holy day. The psalms are timeless and universal in that they ask the same questions and experience the same problems and disasters that humanity has experienced throughout the ages:
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
We long to be together for Easter and yet we still have to be patient. The lonely psalmist concludes with a prayer that might have been written for us now:
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help 6 and my God.
This is a tough time for us as a church but our forebears have, at times, endured worse. Let us stay hopeful. I look forward to breaking bread with you all before too long.
This comes with best wishes and prayers,
Canon Michael Roden, Chaplain of St John and St Philip