Vicar’s Blog ~ ASK: Easter 6

Vicar's Blog ~ May 2020
ASK: Easter 6

2020-05-17-Gordon

Dear friends,

Another week of lockdown passes, and we now hear that London has moved from being one of the worst-infected areas of the country to the lower end of the scale of suffering. We can be thankful for small mercies, without complacency or lack or realism. As with everything else we inch forward. Thank you to everyone who contributed to and commented on last week’s online worship, we are inching forward with that too, and will do so for as long as necessary. Do connect this week it at:

Weekly Online Service

Also, as well or instead, the sermon at:

This week's sermon

If you like Jazz, and perhaps are even a fan of Jools Holland, you might like to check out his version of ‘Abide with Me’, here:

Jools Holland at Rochester Cathedral

The PCC are meeting online this weekend - if you are on the PCC and haven’t spotted this, please do be in touch. One or two folk have dropped off the radar, perhaps due to the furlough situation, and we cannot contact them. We don’t have a lot of business to conduct, but it is important that we keep the governance of the parish in good order.

Inevitably, we are now preparing to move out of the Vicarage. This has its distinctive challenges at this time, but the timescales are not displaced much. It is looking like my original installation date will still be my official start date, even if there is to be no ‘event’ for us all to attend, at this stage. By the same token, my ‘final’ Sunday at St Mary Magdalene’s would have been May 24th (next Sunday), but we cannot do anything on that date either. The likelihood is that we would actually move out in the second half of June. As far as I am concerned we are still here for you and with you until that time (which we will specify as soon as possible). The Bishop of Edmonton has kindly granted me a licence to officiate in London Diocese for another year. It will not be a smooth process, but it will enable me to continue to serve you in some way even after we have moved house. St Mary Magdalene’s and Rochester Cathedral will have an unusual and special connection!

In these times, ‘distance’ is a powerful and evocative word. It has taken on new meanings, whereby we concern ourselves with the distance between people on trains and even in a common building. ‘Social’ distance is a strange and new concept with almost Orwellian connotations. In 1984 Orwell said ‘war is peace’, and now we wage a war on the virus by keeping our peace. ’Social distance’ can be thought of as a self-contradictory ‘doublespeak' phrase implying distance and closeness at the same time. We all know what it means, how it translates practically, in terms of two metre gaps in queues and so forth. But it also works the other way such that ‘social distance’ also brings people who are physically distanced, into a social closeness. We have reflected on that spiritually a bit over the weeks, (and how we can be distanced from each other but close to God) but it also occurs to me that at this time we have been physically distanced from each other in a manner that does not actually distinguish between Australia and the next street; and the flip-side of this isolation and social distance is actually social closeness, which needs pay no regard to geographical distance. So let us follow our heads in relation to social distance, but let our hearts rule our social closeness. For in some sense we have become closer these weeks, socially, spiritually, emotionally. Our physical move to Rochester will mark a sad moment of geographiucal distance begun at a particular point in time, but we will remain socially close. As everyone from Vera Lynn to the Queen have been saying, ‘we’ll meet again!’

With much love from the Vicarage,

Gordon