Pew News - 2020 March 29

This is a longer version of our normal pew sheet to support parishioners during the global coronavirus outbreak.

There are no services in the churches in the parish this week. 

On this page:

Welcome from the Rector

These are unprecedented times in which services of worship are suspended. We hope that you will find ways of expressing your Christian faith in the meantime. However, the sense that you are doing so at the same time and in the company of others is a precious one which you may be very reluctant to forsake. Here are some ideas for maintaining that spiritual reality.

One particular encouragement to you is to try Radio 4’s Sunday Worship at 08:10, which this week is entitled ‘Reconciliation in Difficult Times’ - a Service for Passion Sunday led by Canon Dr Jennifer Smith of Wesley’s Chapel, London.

Other BBC radio provision is to be found through the following links:

In addition, you may be pleased to be assured that prayer goes on within our parish community. I commend the efforts of one of our Lent Groups, despite all the obstacles, to keep in touch as they learn and pray in this back end of the Season. Also, as you may have read earlier, efforts continue for people to join in with the Church of England’s Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer. These can be called down from the web address by specifying the required day, and can be prayed from your phone or computer without any need to print them out.

I will be saying Morning Prayer from home at 08:30, Monday to Thursday and on Saturdays, together with Evening Prayer at 17:00 on those days. Others are also following this practice (and ensuring Fridays are not forgotten).

An initiative in these past few days has been the establishment of a small group hearing and saying the Office together by the medium of ‘Zoom’, which others of us may have encountered in family or professional settings. We are growing in our numbers and in our technical proficiency. It is a means by which the parish and wider world is held in prayer, and I shall be delighted to explore widening the net if others wish to be involved.

Worship scheduled for 29 March 2020, Passion Sunday

Both of our church buildings are presently closed for worship and unavailable to visitors.
Church of England's announcement (24/3/2020)The letter from the Rector on cancellation of services .

Today in the Church of St John the Baptist, Westbourne we had planned for four services:

  • an 09:00 Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer
  • a sung Parish Communion at 09:30
  • a baptism service at 11:30
  • and a Service for Passiontide in the style and music of the Taizé Community, 18:00

None of these can proceed.

You might be interested to view the hymns that would have been sung on these occasions:
O for a thousand tongues (tune: Lyngham)
Glory be to Jesus
From heaven you came (‘Servant King’)
There is a green hill far away
And can it be

18:00 ‘Music from Taizé' (more in the Prayer and resources section at the end of this page including links to the evening services broadcasts from the community during the coronavirus outbreak)
Laudate omnes gentes
Adoramus te, Domine
Ubi caritas
Stay with me, remain here with me
Jesus, remember me, when you come into your Kingdom
Within our darkest night

Perhaps you would like to look up one or more of these songs and read the words, or sing them wherever you happen to be.

Collect for Passion Sunday (for you to pray at home)

Most merciful God,
who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
delivered and saved the world:
grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross
we may triumph in the power of his victory;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Our leading reading for the morning of 29 March 2020 was to have been the following:

Ezekiel 37: 1-14
The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.
2 He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry.
3 He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
6 I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.
8 I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”
10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
11 Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’
12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel.
13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people.
14 I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act, says the LORD.”

To this reading, the Rector adds the following verses, drawn from the end of the Gospel set for today (John 11: 45-end):
… from that day on they planned to put him to death.
54 Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.
55 Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves.
56 They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?”
57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

The Rector, Andrew Doye writes

You might consider in these days of plague and pestilence, that an Old Testament story entitled ‘The Valley of Dry Bones’ was not entirely in the best of taste. It is a well-known tale (hidden rather in the back of our memories) of the bones of the dead, raised up: entered with breath, laid again with flesh, sinews upon them, and that breath - the breath of God - giving life to those which were slain, and the knowledge of God. It is an image, not a reality; yet it is prophesy too in that it speaks hope, wisdom and new life into a hearing people.

How far you and I are sunk into a slough of despond at the present times may depend upon a variety of factors. The extent of our dismay, may depend upon our own health; and, so too, the health and prospects of loved ones; it may depend where at this present time we live, and the instances of coronavirus which we perceive to be amongst us; it may depend on our cash flow and our responsibilities; it may depend upon our own outlook and characteristic morale; it may depend upon our propensity to anxiety (which is not to be disdained), our mental health, and the friendship, love and encouragement being conveyed to us by others at this time. And of course it may depend on things quite unconnected with covid-19: things of delight and of horror; things of blessed mercy, and things that ‘do us down’.

I arranged a video conversation with our longstanding friends, Deborah and Alastair on Friday evening. And it was a delight to catch up on good news, of family weddings and engagements, trips abroad, fulfilling involvement in the life of their parish church, amusements and jokes; as well as sharing wise and sometimes wry reflection on the state of world and nation. There is some good out there: be assured.

Whatever our present standing, and whatever our personal state of mind, these words through Ezekiel present a picture of God’s activity which may be valuable to our hearts and spirits, these many centuries on. The prophet addressed a nation whose past promise was in tatters, whose hope was low, spilt out upon the ground. The desire and possibility of God, as painted in this story, was of granting new life; raising up a people, a community; inbuing hope; and in this, of giving himself (through breath) to bring about this saving process.

In all that is dismay-and-struggle, God is the great Breather-upon-us; the loving Breath-amidst-us; the gentle Breath-within-us. And God is One. Making of us, oneness.

God is to be sensed among us in those acts of love and selflessness, that are seen on our street, in our schools, in our hospitals; through deliverers, well-wishers, riskers, poets and singers of songs. God’s breath sustains us now, even when we find breath hardest to gasp; and God’s breath of life is for the future, too.

This is prayer; this is grace; this is close and abiding love.

Today begins the season of ‘the Passion’. The sharp-end of Lent , wherein the days darken, and the forces of darkness close in upon our Lord. You might imagine he would like to take a mortgage holiday, a furlough from work, a trip away from the city into the pleasant air of seas and downland.

The people asked, ‘surely, he will not come to the festival. Surely? Or will he?’ And his enemies waited to arrest him.
But you might remember the answer; and find it bubbling up in your awareness, in the Season of his Passion.
Yes, surely, he would come. For he is Love.
And in that love is breath-of-God for all the world.
And hope, and life, and mercy.


  • For families of those who have died this week, for those who are unwell, and for those who are particularly vulnerable at this time.
  • Those who work in key sectors, sometimes to their own personal vulnerability.
  • Those whose jobs or income are under threat.
  • Those outlets or businesses in our own parish that have had to close their doors to customers.
  • Those households under strain through unexpected confinement.

More opportunities for prayer featured on this page.

News and events

Not so many events, understandably, at present, but continue to watch this space!

The Rector’s day off remains Fridays.


Term continues, though for a reduced number of students, in many of our schools. Think of the teachers and other staff enabling this. I have personally heard wonderful expressions of thanks from families who are grateful for the support of schools in the most testing of times.
Leading figures in our national community have contracted coronavirus: the Prince of Wales, the Prime Minister, the Health Secretary, among these. This brings the realisation nearer not only of the prevalence of a condition which is no respecter of status and worldly influence, but also, in the public sight, knowledge of those who are combatting it with determination and with resolve to look to a hopeful future beyond the present circumstances.

Westbourne community

And, in Westbourne and its surrounds, we continue to learn of individuals wanting to make a difference for the sake of a wider community. Thank you, all!


Clapping for our Carers: as you will know, at 8pm on Thursday 26th, many people took to their front doors, balconies or gardens to clap, and ring, and hoot for their appreciation of NHS and others whose care for our communities is heroic and especially apparent at this time. I hope, like me, you enjoyed that opportunity and the chance to do something alongside others. Elderfield Close, I know, was planning a great response; though I couldn’t hear them amid the nearer noises coming from my own vicinity.


Westbourne Magazine is actively examining its options to put April’s writings into the public domain. We should soon know what has proved possible. Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, when we remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem ahead of the harsh week that followed; and when in our services we would normally read a lengthy ‘Gospel of the Passion of Christ’. On the presumption that we will not be able to get out to you palm crosses, this year, I encourage everyone to fashion a cross for your own comfort and devotion - be it in paper, or sticks, lego, play dough or pastry - ready to recognise and observe Holy Week. I shall also send you a printable sheet to display in your window at that time. Andrew Doye

Christian Aid collections

Christian Aid has stated that the House to House collections cannot go ahead this May (2020), which is a great sadness. We shall be looking in this parish for other ways in which we can appropriately support this excellent charity in the months ahead.

Revision of Electoral Roll

The churches’ Electoral Roll is being revised. If you would like your name to be added, please contact Margaret Bristowe. Closing date is Sunday 5 April 2020. If your name is already on the roll you do not need to contact Margaret, unless you have changed your contact details.

Other Dates for your Diary (please note the following events have had to be cancelled/postponed)

  • Wednesday 22 April 2020 - our ANNUAL Parochial Church Meeting - POSTPONED until a later date, possibly in the Autumn
  • Thursday 16 April 2020 - Fellowship Supper at the Westbourne Café – HAS BEEN POSTPONED until a later date. Sorry!
  • Saturday 9 May 2020 - Chilli Supper in support of ‘Christian Aid’ - ALSO POSTPONED

Opportunities for prayer

Prayer and Devotions in Passiontide ‘Salvator Mundi’ Jesus, Saviour of the world, come to us in your mercy; We look to you to save and heal us. By your cross and your life laid down you set your people free: we look to you to save and help us.

Making best of the opportunities for prayer in the absence of our regular services, several suggestions for you this week:

Time to Pray appThe Church of England, through Church House Publishing is making completely free the use of its daily prayer app. It may offer those who enjoy such a facility to access the resources of Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Night Prayer, or ‘Prayer during the Day’ on their phones.
Link for Church of England Publishing's apps including Time to Pray (now available free). This links has details of how you can download the app on Google Play or Apple store.


BRF logoOr why not subscribe to some Daily Reading notes through Bible Reading Fellowship. Or why not subscribe to some Daily Reading notes through Bible Reading Fellowship. New booklets have been delivered and are held safely pending distribution ahead of the start date in early May. If you wish to become a new subscriber, please telephone Dennis Farr.



Thy Kingdom Come logo - blue circles surrounding a crossResources and possible suggestions for parents and children at this time of unexpected homecoming.
Growing in faith together
1. Keep a regular routine of prayer. Good times to pray together are those times you do something regularly, eating together, going to bed or washing your hands! Or Light a candle and Pray the same family prayer at the same time every day.
2. Read a bible story at bed-time or watch one online with them during the day.
3. With the ongoing situation, it can be difficult adjusting to not seeing family and friends in person, however, you can still pray for them together daily. Write them a letter or send them a picture saying that you are thinking and praying for them?
4. Choose one of the follow family Fun prayer ideas at Bright prayer ideas for families at home! (PDF fiiles opens in a new window on 'Thy Kingdom Come' website.
5. Listen to a podcast together. For example, you can listen to the Family Prayer Adventure podcasts (PDF fiiles opens in a new window on 'Thy Kingdom Come' website.

Prayers and intercessions for individuals during the coronavirus outbreak

Church of England liturgy and prayer resources

Church of England Guidance for Parishes on the coronavirus outbreak (March 2020) - this includes FAQs, digital resources, and more.

Online resources for worship from the Church of England

On Sunday 22 March 2020, the Archbishop of Canterbury will led a service for Mothering Sunday which you can replay below on YouTube using the play button on the picture below or at this link (opens in a new window)].


Resources direct from the Taizé community:

Evening prayer live from Taizé

Taize community logo - orange crossA note from the brothers of the community: "Faced with the measures of isolation that are now the rule in many different countries, in Taizé we would like to express our spiritual solidarity with all those who find themselves alone."

From Monday 16 March 2020, at 20:30 (Central European Time (CET / UTC+1), a prayer with a small group of brothers is being broadcast live from the Community on Facebook Live. Previous recordings can be found on the community's website. Check the time for BST (from 30/3/2020).

This prayer is also broadcast every evening at 20.30 (CET/ UTC+1) by radio and on the site of RCF with a reflection given by a brother in French during the time of silence. There will be a link to the video published on the community's website at the beginning of the broadcast. The list of songs will be published each day at the end of the afternoon. The Bible reading can be found online on this page of the site.

Help us keep in touch with you 

We are highly dependent upon electronic means for sharing information with parishioners at present.  Please ensure we have up-to-date email details. Please let us know if there are others wanting this service, whose details we do not yet have. Please let us know if you do not wish to be contacted.

Contacts for St John the Baptist Church & Woodmancote Church

Rector: The Revd Andrew Doye​​​  01243 372867

Rectory email: ​

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