Sadly there were no services at All Saints’ on Mothering Sunday but Phoebe Tak Man Chow managed to record some Mothering Sunday hymns and organ music from All Saints’ which you can watch and listen from this link (paste link into your browser if the hyperlink doesn’t work)
Bishop James, who was to have taken our services has sent the following letter to All Saints’
THE BISHOP OF ROCHESTER
The Right Revd James Langstaff
To the people of All Saints’, Orpington
21st March, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters
As you may well be aware, I was looking forward to being with you tomorrow, Mothering Sunday, for both of your morning services. However, the national suspension of public worship means that this will now not take place. And, though I might have come to say prayers in your church, that could only have taken place privately with no more than one or two others. I am, therefore, writing to assure you of my prayers and to offer a few words of reflection.
The challenges facing us nationally and globally at this moment are of a kind not seen for many decades. We are confronted with something which we cannot see, do not fully understand and cannot control. In our society, we have grown used to being largely in control of our own destinies, and so the new circumstance is both confusing and frightening. Indeed, I don’t think most of us have begun to realise the immensity of this and the impact it might have on our patterns of life, including the long-term effects on the economy. Taking part in a debate in the House of Lords this week, I was struck by the level of anxiety and by the seriousness of response from those who know what they are talking about – academics, economists and medical people as well as the politicians.
The gospel reading for this Sunday is John 9.1-41. It is the passage about the man who was blind from birth and receives his sight from Jesus. In John’s hands, this episode becomes a kind of parable about understanding – about ‘seeing’ in that wider sense. I think that over coming months we may have to learn to ‘see’ in entirely new ways. To see the world as a whole differently – a world in which a disease can travel across most of the globe in the matter of a few days; and hopefully to change some of our ways of living accordingly. To see how we relate to each other differently, perhaps learning how we can care in new ways, how we can communicate and even how we can pray. When God’s people of old were sent into exile in Babylon, they came out of it with new ways of worshipping and meeting together for prayer – less focused on the temple and much more local. What might we discover, how might we ‘see’ differently, as a result of this time as we are ‘exiled’ from our normal ways of living.
Or, using the Mothering Sunday readings rather than Lent 4, we would have had a passage from St Paul (2 Corinthians 1.3-7). Here the apostle praised God as “the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation”. He talks about how consolation comes from God in times of affliction and, addressing the Corinthian church, he says: “Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation”.
In all kinds of ways, this is a time of testing, of uncertainty, of affliction. Significant numbers of people (and not just those actually infected) are already suffering, facing challenges of illness, hardship, isolation and worry. On this day we pray for them and for all of us that we may know the mother-like care of God bringing consolation and new clarity in our seeing.
With my prayers and all good wishes,
James, Bishop of Rochester