The Vicar's Letter (written by Reverend Joy Cousans, Vicar of St Mary's Church in Eaton Bray) has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since June 2017
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Vicar's Letter

July 2020

Reverend Joy Cousans, vicar of the Church of St Mary The Virgin, Eaton Bray with Edlesborough.

As I write this we are preparing to reopen St Mary's church for private prayer. It has been shut since the middle of March due to the Coronavirus pandemic. So it is not a simple matter of opening the doors again: there is much preparation for the building to be ready for visitors.

First we have had to check that everything is in order from a health and safety perspective. Then the building has been thoroughly cleaned and aired. When you go into church you will see that it looks different inside due to the regulations around social distancing. Chairs are set apart from one another to enable people to sit without being in close proximity. All the books and children's toys have been removed. To enable cleaning, which will have to be done more frequently, part of the church is out of bounds. Also it will be open twice a week instead of daily. The opening hours are Wednesday 10am to 4pm and Sunday 11am to 4pm.

Worship will continue to be accessed online through the church website or via the St Mary's Facebook page and on our YouTube channel.

This reminds us that churches are more than buildings; the church is also a community of Christians who worship and pray and live out their faith in a particular place. But buildings are important as a visual reminder of the presence of God in our midst. They are a focal point for the community.

Despite the changes in the layout of the interior of St Mary's, those who have been into the church to get it ready for reopening have remarked on the sense of peace and calm within. Perhaps because a lot of the chairs have been moved and the books taken out the eye is focused on the stained glass windows, the beautiful reredos behind the altar and beauty of the building itself. Many people find that the church building is an important sacred space in which to come and take time out, pray or just to be still. It will now be possible to do that again and for individuals to use the building for private prayers.

St Mary's church usually hosts social events such as coffee mornings and Music at St Mary's. Sadly none of these can go ahead at the moment. We do however have a virtual coffee morning on the first Saturday in the month held on zoom. If you would like an invitation, please get in touch via the website. And there will be St Mary's Scarecrow Festival on the weekend of 3-5 July. Again, there is information on the website. We hope you will join in the fun and help raise funds for St Mary's and Dunstable Food Bank.

We are delighted that you will be able to visit the church again and hope you will find solace in being there. The following prayer is used regularly in our online worship and asks for God's presence in the midst of these difficult and challenging times.

A prayer for the coronavirus outbreak

Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

With every blessing,

Joy (Vicar of Eaton Bray with Edlesborough)

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About the Vicar's Letter

The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.

The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the area for these.