The Vicarage, 5a Plymouth Road, Tavistock, Devon PL19 8AU Tel: 01822 617432 Email: email@example.com
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We continue to live in uncertain times with the COVID19 pandemic. There is no doubt that, at times like this, faith can be challenged as COVID19 affects all human life. I write this to our parishes of Tavistock, Gulworthy, and Brent Tor as Government guidance has been revised to allow certain activities to take place in our church buildings, and as we move as a County into Tier 2 restrictions, although these restrictions have yet to be fully clarified. Now that the second lockdown has ended, we will be able to hold acts of public worship once again. Weddings for up to 15 people and funerals for up to 30 people are also allowed. It will, of course, still be necessary for us to ensure that our hygiene and social distancing precautions are kept in place, and that our COVID19 protocols are followed in order to keep everyone as safe as possible.
In all our four churches, we are keeping Advent, and preparing to celebrate Christmas. We are planning a mix of online and “in person” services and events in order to celebrate the birth of Christ in a safe and inclusive way. At a time when many are fearful or anxious about the future, I believe preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ becomes even more significant for each one of us, and to the communities in which we live. 2020 will be remembered for the brokenness of human life, for the very many lives lost, as a time of increased mental illness, for isolation and a lack of physical contact, all happening alongside economic downturn, job losses, and reduced opportunities for all ages. However, it will also rightly be remembered for the time our NHS, essential services, key workers, churches and communities, have reached out very practically and pastorally and shown great care and concern for others. This is a Christian message of hope and for this we can thank God. The coming of Christmas will remind us, once again, of this message of hope.
The great mystery of the incarnation is that God takes on human form so that God’s light might become known in the dark places of the world. The story of Christmas is a story of God’s care and concern for his people, and of God’s involvement with the world in which we live. “Emmanuel” – God is with us – we proclaim aloud at Christmas. We do not journey through this present time of darkness and despair alone. Christians looks forward to what is to come. The child born at Bethlehem brings us hope so that we can face the future with confidence. God comes to us to dispel the darkness of this world. He is called “Wonderful”, “Counsellor”, “the mighty God”, “the everlasting Father”, “the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9.9). In him we find our hope for the future, our peace and our joy.
As a benefice we have produced a series of four Advent reflections, the first of these was posted on our Facebook pages, websites and YouTube, on Wednesday, 2nd December. Further reflections will follow each Wednesday and I commend them to you.
Comfort and Joy
Nationally, the Church has produced a suite of resources called “Comfort and Joy”. These resources are aimed at supporting individuals, families and communities celebrate the birth of Christ this year. The Church is called to ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep’. (Romans 12.15).
Comfort and Joy is a series of reflections published on social media and available by Email, App, and on smart speakers for each Sunday of Advent. Fifteen core reflections have been published by Church House Publishing (CHP) in a booklet entitled, Comfort and Joy: Nine Lessons and Carols for Christmas Youth reflections are available on Instagram. Full information can be found at: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/preparing-advent-christmas-2020-comfort-and-joy
Living Advent Calendar
As part of Tavistock’s celebration of Christmas and in conjunction with Tavistock BID, business and churches around Tavistock have created a ‘Living Advent Calendar’. Details can be found on the St. Eustachius website.
Brentor Advent Calendar
Brentor’s Online Advent Calendar is also up and running. Please do take a look at https://brentorchurch.org.uk/christmas/advent-calendar/ and keep checking back. New items are added each day.
Tavistock’s Alternative Christmas Tree Festival 2020
Known this year as the “SchoolsTreeFest, and opening on the 4th December at 12 noon, Tavistock Church will welcome visitors into St. Eustachius’ to see this year’s trees, subject, of course, to Tier 2, COVID19 regulations. The festival will run until Tuesday, 15 December, from 12 Noon to 4.30 pm each day. A one-way system will operate with visitors asked to enter using the South door and leave by the North door. This event is very different, and necessarily smaller, from that of previous years, nevertheless, it remains a wonderful festival for the Church and town. I very much hope you will be able to visit the Church and celebrate the spirit of Christmas.
The Church will also be available for private prayer from Monday to Saturday, 12 Noon until 4.30 pm., during the period of the festival with members of the Ministry Team present.
South West Carols
“South West Carols” is an event happening this weekend, the 5th & 6th December, from 7pm each evening. It is described as: “The Biggest Festive Carols & Nativity Event in the South West!” and you can watch it live at: www.southwestcarols.com, also on Facebook and YouTube.
Church Services in the Benefice
St. Eustachius’, Tavistock
Sunday 6th December: Holy Communion 9.45 am
Wednesday 9th December: Morning Prayer 10.30 am
Sunday 13th December: Christingle Service 9.45 am. This service will be followed by a “Meeting to Elect a Churchwarden.” Please do come if you are able to do so.
Wednesday 16th December: Holy Communion 10.30 am
Sunday 20th December: Holy Communion 9.45 am and Benefice On-line Carol Service 4.00 pm
Wednesday 23rd December: Holy Communion 10.30 am
Christmas Eve Midnight Mass: 11.30 pm*
Christmas Day: Christmas Morning Eucharist 9.30 am*
*For both of these services, numbers will be restricted, and it will be necessary to book a place for one of these in advance. To book a place, please contact Mary (Churchwarden) on 01822 481179 from the 15th December.
Sunday 27th December: Holy Communion 9.45 am
Sunday 6th December: Holy Communion 11.15 am
Sunday 13th December: Holy Communion 11.15 am
Sunday 20th December: Benefice On-line Carol Service 4.00 pm and Christmas Festival 6.00 pm
Christmas Day: Christmas Morning Eucharist 10.30 am
Sunday 27th December: Holy Communion 11.15 am
Christ Church, Brentor
Sunday 6th December: Holy Communion 9.45 am
Sunday 13th December: Prayer and Praise 9.45 am
Sunday 20th December: Nativity Service 9.45 am and Benefice On-line Carol Service 4.00 pm
Christmas Eve: Midnight Mass 11.00 am*
*Numbers will be restricted for this service, and it will be necessary to book a place in advance.
To book a place, please contact Helen (Churchwarden) on 01822 810845
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 27th December: Family Service
St. Michael’s, Brent Tor
Both Christ Church and St Michael’s are open every day for private prayer. On Christmas Day there will be carols playing and lay ministers and churchwardens present from 10 am until 4 pm at St. Michael’s to greet people and pray.
For those self-isolating, or unable to attend Midnight Mass or a Christmas Morning Service in any of our churches, a Midnight Mass service will be broadcast on our social media sites at 10.00 pm on the evening of Christmas Eve. Tavistock’s Christmas Morning Service will also be available on-line on Christmas Day.
Each month, we continue to publish the Benefice magazine “virtually” on the St. Eustachius website, and again, I commend this to you. A printable version is available on-line to share with anyone you know who has no access to the internet.
Please continue to share and cascade this letter to anyone you know who has little or no access to email, or to our social media sites. It remains vitally important to keep everyone informed of, and involved in, our ongoing Church life across the Benefice. Thank you.
Please stay safe and well and be assured of my continued love and prayers this Advent and as Christmas approaches.
With God’s blessing