Dear Friends,

We wake this morning to life in our second period of national lock-down and restriction. This will have a huge impact on all our lives and this message if to firstly reassure you of my prayers as we begin this time of challenge. It is also an opportunity to update you on how we in the Parishes by the Wall will be seeking to respond to these changing restrictions.

The first and most important thing we can do is to pray. In their letter to the nation the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have called us to join in a month of prayer for the nation. Focusing on praying each day at 6pm these simple resources have been produced for you to use in your own home and with your family. We will be maintaining our pattern of Daily Prayer at 9am and 6pm each day on our Facebook page and using these resources and themes to inform the 6pm evening prayer.

As a result of the new government legislation passed yesterday public worship is prohibited through this initial four-week period of lockdown. The Churches in Haydon Bridge and Henshaw will though be open for those who would like to use them for private prayer on Sunday mornings and Wednesday afternoons. The exact times each week will be publicised in our usual weekly mailing.

In their letter the Archbishops ask us to be "calm, courageous, and compassionate" with ourselves and one another as we approach the coming weeks. For this reason we will be renewing the patterns of pastoral support we had in place during the first period of lock-down. I hope this means that most people will get some form of contact within the coming weeks. If you would like to speak to me or Gill or someone else please feel free to make contact - you don't need to wait for us to call you. Also if you have concerns about a friend or neighbour who might not be on our radar with practical or personal needs please let us know in confidence.

There is no pretending that this will period of lock down will not be challenging for us all.  As the nights get darker there is a danger that we could be overtaken by the uncertainty of this time. But as we come closer to the darkest time of year we need to remember that it was into the darkness and uncertainty of a young family, living in shame and fear, who had no safe place to sleep that God chose to come close to us in the birth of Jesus Christ. We live in uncertain times, but we always live in hope because we know that into the darkness comes the light that sine in that darkness, and the darkness never overcomes it.

With love and prayers to you all,