I just wanted to give a little more information regarding our decision to cancel the Come and Worship event planned for this Sunday (10 Jan 2021).

When the November lockdown was announced, the government decided to include Places of Worship in the list of venues that must close, thus prohibiting corporate acts of worship. Many church leaders and Christian organisations lobbied the government to get corporate worship excluded from the lockdown restrictions. To their credit, our government heeded these calls, and since 2 December, places of worship in England have remained open for corporate worship in all tiers.

Even within the current lockdown restrictions announced yesterday, we are free to gather as a church to worship. Despite the general stay-at-home message, ‘going to church’ is recognised in law as a legitimate reason to leave your home. Let’s remember to give God thanks for the remarkable level of religious freedom that we enjoy in this country! Let’s also be in no doubt that gathering together for worship is not to be classified with leisure activities such as walking the dog or going to the cinema. Rather it is our highest privilege and calling, a basic and important human function and, I would argue, the bedrock of any healthy and just society.

At the same time, we are a people saved by grace. We don’t need to attend church, worship or do anything else for that matter, in order to tick a box in heaven. We do not worship to curry favour with God or keep him on our side. Praise God, his favour is guaranteed in Jesus, and he is always on our side!

The number of Coronavirus cases in our local community is the highest that it has been, certainly since April/May, and we have heard much about the increased transmissibility of the new Covid strain. Therefore, the elders felt that, on balance, now is not the best time to gather people in the Grace Centre for corporate worship. Accordingly, we have cancelled the Come and Worship event that was planned for this coming Sunday evening. I apologise to everyone who was particularly looking forward to that or had already obtained tickets.

We will reschedule this as soon as it feels right to do so. Indeed, we may feel that it is appropriate to hold such an event even before any further changes to the national guidelines. In the meantime, we will continue to livestream all our services online in a Covid-safe way. Also, we will take the opportunity to gather online this Sunday evening to pray for our church and for our nation. Look out for the Zoom link to be a part of that if you can.

It feels like the coming month could be particularly challenging. Scientifically speaking, it is not true that “the night is darkest before the dawn”, but it is not difficult to see why that expression has been around since the 17th Century! Let’s continue to look out for one another, take every opportunity to bring encouragement, and not be afraid to reach out to others when we could use some help ourselves. All the while let’s remember to worship our God, who is good, and expect him to work in surprising ways!