Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

September 2020: Community night

Grace September 2020 flyer

September Grace is often a time for us as a community where we commit together to God and one another afresh for the year ahead. In spite of the strange season we were in, that still felt like the kind of thing we want to be doing.

We were no longer in lockdown but we did not feel able to have services in the church yet, due to complexities around social distancing, cleaning, risk assessments etc. We were also aware that some people would not yet be comfortable with meeting together.

We planned to do a couple of things - have a short liturgy together and then some space to talk and reflect together looking back and looking ahead. There were some prompts below for people to think about in advance.

Prompts for reflection:

Looking back:

Look through this site and you will see what we have done this year, and in particular since lockdown and whatever we’re in now. The most visible things are the monthly services, but there has also been a weekly simple liturgy (the return of Gracelet!) up until the end of July, and a Whatsapp group. What are your reflections on this period? It was completely new to all of us so it would be good to reflect together? What has been good? What has been hard?

Looking forward:

The future is uncertain. It seems quite hard to plan too far ahead so we are thinking that perhaps we could plan a term at a time or maybe 6 months? When Gill, Mike and Jonny spoke about it we were led to reflect on what Grace is, which is not solely about worship, so rather than leap straight to planning worship on or offline here’s three aspects. This is actually prompted by what we say about ourselves on the Grace website in the 'about' section which is network/community of relationships, worship, and mission:

a) network/community of relationships

There have been some rather lovely connections and networking via phone, Whatsapp, Zoom, and latterly in small numbers in person as lockdown has eased a bit. Grace is this community or set of relations around the world. How can we nurture those connections (and maybe new ones) in the next season in life-giving ways and ways that also are safe? What works for you? Are there cracks that people fall through?

b) mission

We describe this as supporting what people are doing in life in their own work and activities, as well as having a mission to the church. How can we support one another well in the next season?

c) worship

What shall we do in the term ahead? Is a monthly gathering helpful? How about mid week? Are you craving face to face or happy to meet online and keep face to face to smaller groups networking in other ways? Do you have an idea or something to offer, to contribute to or to lead?


Is the season ahead one in which we focus on all three aspects above or emphasise one more than the others?

And it has been said in many areas of life that we can’t go back and need a new normal. What might the new normal be for Grace in the future?


The values of Grace are create, participate, risk, engage, and are things we hold dear and aspire to.

What one leaps out for you as something you have explored over the last 6 months?

What one do you want to explore or lean into in the next season?


The consensus was that we will:
1. Continue with the monthly Grace services on Zoom for the time being.
2. Begin a monthly planning night on Zoom so more people can get involved in planning.
3. Have a simple monthly liturgy - Gracelet - on Zoom in between the main services.


We based our liturgy around a labyrinth, which we could follow with our finger on screen. The liturgy and slides are in this pdf. We were invited to consider the loss we want to name, the truth we want to tell, or a question we want to ask.

Reflections in the chat feed:

From Jonny to Everyone: (8:31 pm)
How long will we be in this situation?

From Jackie Elton to Everyone: (8:31 pm)
What has happened to the centre of London

From Rebecca Warren to Everyone: (8:31 pm)
When will I be able to sing in a choir again?

From Jenny Baker to Everyone: (8:31 pm)
I think it’s difficult to name loss when you’re aware of how privileged you are. I find this all hard but am aware of how many people are in appalling situations.

From Mike Rose to Everyone: (8:31 pm)
I’ve just lost Christmas with my family

From Jackie Elton to Everyone: (8:31 pm)
when are we going to get a vaccine?

From Peter Tate to Everyone: (8:31 pm)
Will we be (more) introvert by the end?

From Lori Wilson to Everyone: (8:32 pm)
The truth I want to *learn* to tell is that my capacity is diminished by the strain of this time. And also that that truth may not be all bad.

From Jackie Elton to Everyone: (8:32 pm)
I have friends that I feel I have lost because I can’t connect with - because their response to this is so different from mine

From Ben Cohen to Everyone: (8:33 pm)
The truth I want to learn is “how then shall I/we live?”

From Steve Goble to Everyone: (8:33 pm)
My truth is that, so far, I have felt quite comfy indoors.

From Rebecca Warren to Everyone: (8:33 pm)
Will we ever see competent politicians in power? (And is there anything we can do to help?)

From Janet Oldham to Everyone: (8:33 pm)
I liked the quotes. The truth I would like to tell is the title of a book I have. It suggests the cause which underlies all our current crises is 'The Illusion of Separation'.. I think this illusion stems from our loss of connection with God.

From Jonny to Everyone: (8:33 pm)
Not being able to meet with two sons and their family because we will be 8 is a loss

From Lori Wilson to Everyone: (8:34 pm)
Kurt; the truth that I can’t impact change near as much as I thought. The question: what can I do…or how can I now live?

From Jenny Baker to Everyone: (8:34 pm)
the truth I want to tell is that I feel I have to carry and manage the anxiety of everyone at my work and I don’t feel able to even try and work out what I feel

From Peter Tate to Everyone: (8:34 pm)
Smaller circle of friends?

From Jackie Elton to Everyone: (8:34 pm)
Is this the first of many pandemics that will be caused by viruses that jump the species barrier as humankind clears more and more of the world’s forests?

From Rebecca Warren to Everyone: (8:34 pm)
What will happen to young people whose education has been disrupted?

From Mike Rose to Everyone: (8:35 pm)
The truth for me is that I am feeling pretty scared every day I go into work

From Jonny to Everyone: (8:35 pm)
I have found it really hard when seeing people not to touch/enbrace/hug - it feels weird

From Anthony Pearson to Everyone: (8:35 pm)
intimacy with others and isolation has been a struggle

From Lori Wilson to Everyone: (8:35 pm)
I so miss the ease of casual human touch.

From Me to Everyone: (8:36 pm)
the truth that we will all have to be more self-controlled and disciplined to manage this and to respond to climate change.

From Adam to Everyone: (8:36 pm)
I waited 10 months to start to get back to normal and now this

From Lori Wilson to Everyone: (8:36 pm)
What else does 2020 hold in store?!

From Jackie Elton to Everyone: (8:37 pm)
the career that I have spent 17 yrs developing has gone kaput (Sarah)

From Ben Cohen to Everyone: (8:37 pm)
Are we losing civility, tolerance and liberality for ever? That picture of gills freaks me out (just saying)

From the answers we created the following liturgy:

Gills Liturgy

We are so used to being able to fix things quickly
Our social systems, wealth and technology were going to get us through
“One step at a time,” I thought.
“Stay the course,” I thought.
“Steady on,” I thought.

We thought we were just holding our breath
But it’s time to grow gills

This time is unstable, characterised by inconsistent rules and u-turns.
It is hard to plan ahead.
How can a divided society heal when we can’t even be present in the same room?
Isolated from friends and family, having to find new ways to connect
Give us grace
Hold us when we feel we can’t go on

We thought we were just holding our breath
But it’s time to grow gills

As we are held underwater,
help our ears tune in to new sounds and frequencies
Gill growers who know who they are in water
May we learn to see in a new element,
unafraid to keep our eyes open

We thought we were just holding our breath
But it’s time to grow gills

Let us dedicate this involuntary fast to the Lord
Help us find a new way to carry on
Renew our hope
Turn our fear and retreat into discovery and joy
Renew us

We though we were just holding our breath
But it’s time to grow gills


Every year in September we are invited to commit to God and one another afresh. We have done that in various ways - tying knots, making a table from broken tiles. We were trying to think what might be a ritual we could do together at the time and thought about cairns or piles of stones. So we thought we’d create a cairn at St Mary’s in the garden behind the church. We were invited to place a stone there and take a photo and add to the Whatsapp group with a message - the stone is a way to say whatever you like.

Unfortunately the church gardeners tidied the stones away!

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