Dear Friends,

Just a week ago life seemed more or less normal. Now it feels like the whole world is closing down, and no one knows when it will open up again. I wanted to write to reassure you of our ongoing commitment to you and some of the ways we are beginning to explore what our community might look like in these months. You’ll be aware that we have closed the crypt as of today. The café, shop, concerts and events have ceased trading until the end of April; maybe longer. You’ll understand this is a grievous experience for St Martin’s and its staff and a distressing time for everyone who holds St Martin’s dear. But we fully hope and expect to restore SMITFL to its former shape when the cloud that right now hangs over the whole world finally begins to lift.

Morning Prayer every weekday at 8.30am, with music and brief reflection. We are livestreaming this service on our public Facebook page and have had over a thousand people tuning in on each of the last two days.
Said Eucharist every weekday at 1.00pm (also live streamed). In addition the following acts of worship will be livestreamed but will take place behind closed doors, with only clergy and musicians present.
A 10am Eucharist each Sunday morning, with sermon and music.
A 6.30pm Wednesday evening service, again with reflection and music. The podcast of the sermon will be on our website along with our regular sermon podcasts.
You can join us for all livestreamed services on our Facebook page, here. There will also be a pre-recorded podcast of Great Sacred Music each Thursday at 1pm.

We are also reimagining fellowship and pastoral care in the following ways:
We have created a congregation Facebook group, so people can keep in touch and support each other with prayer and friendship. Our congregation staff members are available for the next ten days to assist members in setting up access to this and ensure we all have access to our nonphysical worship and community.
We are creating ways of keeping in closer touch with those particularly at risk of the virus or most likely to be isolated at such a time as this.
Clergy will be available to speak with anyone who has special concerns.
We plan to send a package by post to those likely to be self-isolating with an order for Daily Prayer and other helpful enclosures.
For over 30 years we have relied on our business to fund our congregational life as well as our wider community work. Now, at this time of international crisis, we need the congregation to step into the gap and help to fund more of our worship and community work. Some of us are facing increased, perhaps intense, financial strain. Could those of us who are more financially secure review our giving and consider whether we are in a position to support our shared life with a higher monthly direct debit or a one-off gift?

We’re never going to call this imposed-ultra-Lent a good thing, but together we can make it a time of discovery, insight and imagination. We can learn new things about technology and one another, and we can open new doors to the activity of the Spirit. I hope we look back and say, I would never want to go through that again, but it deepened our community and it taught me a lot about myself and about God. We are made who we are by God and one another: let’s use this time to be creative in how we connect with both. And remember it was in the wilderness that Israel found out who they were and who God was.

In faith and hope,

A Prayer in the Midst of a Crisis

An Update from St Martin’sGod of searching and knowing,
your people Israel faced famine and wilderness,
and your church has known persecution and hardship.
Be close to all your children in this time of bewilderment and fear.
Make this time of cessation and isolation
one in which your Spirit reveals new ways to be together,
fresh discoveries in worship, different gestures of care,
and innovative forms of compassion.
Encourage the vulnerable, comfort the impoverished,
inspire the anxious and give wisdom to those who govern.
Lift up our hearts that we may see
the abundance of what is still beautiful and true,
not be captivated by what is lost and absent,
and find new gifts in ourselves and one another.
In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ,
who knew what it meant to be alone. Amen