Excerpts from Letter from Bishop Ruth and the Archdeacons
Dear Sisters and Brothers
‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.’ Words from the Book of Common Prayer, the Nunc Dimittis, the Song of Simeon.
Tomorrow we celebrate the festival of Candlemas which brings the season of Christmas and Epiphany to an end with the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
We seek the light of Christ, the hope of salvation in the midst of darkness. Many of us use this prayer at a funeral service. As we mark the passing of the dreadful statistic of 100,000 people dying of Covid-19, we recognise the need to seek the light and hope of Christ, to comfort us in mourning.
Each of those lives lost is someone special and significant. Some of you will have lost a special person in your life. And of course, there are many more whom we grieve whose lives have been affected by this pandemic, whose treatment has been delayed or who have sadly lost their lives for other reasons.
We would like to thank you for the ways in which you have shown acts of love and kindness to one another, your community and to us. We so appreciate that in this time of isolation we have felt the virtual embrace of so many. The words of Colossians 3: 12-17, which we are reflecting on and praying with, this year are being lived out. Thank you!
On Wednesday March 3rd at 2pm there will be a live Facebook service, which will also be streamed on the diocesan website, to which we invite anyone who wants to come to pray and mark the life of a loved one. Please feel free to share this invitation widely.
We know there is yet more to come, as the lockdown extends and a year has turned. We envisage that there will be more formal acts of remembrance at the appropriate time and when we have greater access to our places of worship. However, the news of the vaccines gives us impetus as we head into another month of winter. The signs of snowdrops, the ‘Candlemas bells’ as some call them, remind us of new life breaking through the cold earth. And the words of Simeon ring true.
Many of us are feeling the weariness and sadness of this season and living with so much uncertainty is not easy, so we just want to remind you to take care of yourselves as well as others. Our letters to you seek to be pastoral and supportive rather than giving you yet more things to do! Please feel free to be in touch, ask for help, and know we are praying for you.
Throughout Epiphany there has been worship liturgy and reflections from some of our Assistant Bishops offered for you to download from our diocesan website. These have been much appreciated by both individuals and some of our church communities worshipping online. We intend to continue with the reflections until Easter with some lay contributions alongside some from the four of us. You can download them from our Vimeo channel https://vimeo.com/diocesebathwells, watch them on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/diocesebathwells or play them through our website at www.bathandwells.org.uk.
We do hope that you found the week of Everyday Prayer resourceful as much as we did. It was wonderful to have over 850 signed up to receive the daily videos and materials to try, and the Archdeaconry gatherings at the end of the week were a great encouragement. The resources are still available for us at www.bathandwells.org.uk/lets-pray and we shall be developing our commitment to pray throughout Lent. Watch this space! The Archdeacon of Taunton will be leading some online Quiet Days on ‘Wandering in a Weary Land’ in Lent. Details to follow through Connect.
Bishop Ruth and the Archdeacons
1st February 2021