Coronavirus and Our Churches

Coronavirus and Our Churches

We are in difficult times as a community and the wardens and I want to share with you the resources of our church for it is at such times of national emergency and challenge that people fall back on old certainties often overlooked.

  1. Following government guidance and instructions from our archbishops, there will be no public worship in our churches until further notice. And as from 23 March, we have now been told to close the churches, even for private prayer which is sad but necessary. 
  2. At times of crisis The Church and its members are specifically called to witness to the continuing presence and power of God through prayer and action. Awareness of our neighbours’ needs is written into our national DNA but it is primarily a faith activity: “Love God and your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10.27). Please remember in your prayers those in authority who have to make difficult decisions on our behalf and those who sacrifice their own well-being to help others either professionally or domestically.
  3. Many folk will be worried about themselves, their loved ones and the future of our lives both communally and individually. Please use your wardens, PCC members and myself to discuss anything which is on your mind. Small issues usually mask greater issues which affect us all. No concern will be dismissed; there will be a way through. Hope will prevail.

Christopher Armstrong. 01572 748634.

Churchwarden names and phone numbers are shown on the CONTACT page

Advance Notice: Good Friday – A Virtual Art Exhibition

Advance Notice: Good Friday – A Virtual Art Exhibition

Christopher Armstrong says :

The artists in Barrowden and South Luffenham have pooled their resources to create a Meditation for Good Friday in various works of art. Originally planned for Barrowden Church, the Exhibition will now be presented electronically and will be published on the Benefice website for Good Friday, 10 April so that everyone can see the result.

We are hugely fortunate to have such a wide range of talent in our villages. Please support them by viewing their work!

the lent blog: Creatures of the Sea & Sky

the lent blog: Creatures of the Sea & Sky

Jane Williams writes:

When we planned the Lent Blog many weeks ago, none of us had any idea that the world would be in this state now. This is a global crisis affecting each one of us, even here in the villages of the East Midlands.

The theme this week is Creatures of the Sea and Sky. The #LiveLent booklet leads in this week with Jesus’ words from St Matthew’s Gospel:

“Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?”

In such a time of anxiety and fear, this is something to hang on to, I hope.

One of the bonuses of being locked down in Spring, not only here in the countryside but in our major cities, is the silence that allows us all to hear the dawn chorus, the song of the blackbird, the squabbles of the house-sparrows in the eaves. Bird song is easy to hear now, and one of the most calming and uplifting sounds at this stressful time. The robin in my garden is oblivious to my anxiety about lost income, doesn’t care whether there’s any loo roll in the supermarket or that we’ve watched everything on Netflix.

Meanwhile airplanes are grounded, cars are garaged, ferries and cruise ships in dock, factories shut down. One result is that our economy is in freefall, but another is that the natural world is able to take a breath, enjoy a momentary respite from the choking fumes of pollution that mankind creates.

CO2 emissions have fallen drastically, and scientists suggest that the number of lives saved by the improvement in air quality is 20 times higher than the number of lives that will be lost to Covid-19.

What will happen when we come out of lockdown?

Quite a few people are saying that life will be different. That during this time we will have re-connected with a simpler life; discovered that we don’t need so much ‘stuff’ and will be better neighbours to each other. That instead of flying half-way round the world for a business conference, we’ll take part ‘virtually’ using Zoom or Virtual Reality technology. That instead of flying to Venice for the weekend we’ll take two days to get there by train to see canals run crystal clear and cruise ships banned from the lagoon.

Will we? Or will we return to our old ways?

The Coronavirus emergency is currently pushing the Climate crisis out of the news. It is only a few weeks since Greta Thunberg’s rally in Bristol was on the front pages, but now the news is focused on the pandemic. That is understandable, though I suggest listening to Covid-19 news all day every day is not great for our mental health.

But the climate still matters. This earth still matters. The birds of the air and the fish in the sea still matter. When we come out on the other side of Coronavirus, our fragile planet will still be drowning in micro-plastics, suffocated by CO2 and dying on its feet.  

The #LiveLent prayer for this week is this:

All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all.

He gave us eyes to see them,

And lips that we might tell,

How great is God Almighty,

Who has made all things well.


The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 29th March 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 29th March 2020

Sunday 29th March 2020

 Lent V. Passion Sunday.

  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Ann Fowler, Archdeacon Gordon Steele and Barry Broughton.
  • Pray too for the soul of Ellen Doran (Barrowden/London).
  • In our wider prayers we remember the Deanery of Greater Northampton and its Rural Dean, Beverley Hollins.
  • Don’t forget our very own daily Lent Blog which can be accessed via the Benefice website, wellandfosse.org
  • If you have now received your stewardship form, please consider prayerfully how you might respond. We hope our campaign can be completed by Easter Day.
  • The clocks go forward one hour at 2 am on Sunday!



“Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.”

During any national emergency many people cry out to God and the streamed services are being viewed by many more than normally go to church. The Director General of the BBC Sir John Reith once said, “I do not like crises, but I like the opportunities which they supply”.

Today is the beginning of the Passion of Christ, the lead into his death and the resurrection. His death was one of the cruellest which mankind has thought of. The events which transpired during this time were certainly a crisis for the disciples who ran away and denied knowing Jesus but out of all the horror came the joy of peace and everlasting life.

At the moment, life is hard and for some perhaps there is no light at the end but for all of us the love of God is there. Continue burning the candles as a symbol of hope

And however you are feeling, know that prayers are being offered for all of us.


Loving Lord, we cry out to you. Hear our prayer for ourselves and for all those who are ill and hurting in whatever way. We know that you weep with us and wrap us in your love. Amen.

Ann Robinson


DUDDINGTON: Look out for Village WhatsApp.

MORCOTT: The Good Neighbour scheme should be up and running this weekend. Look for a Leaflet through your letterbox. 


See wellandfosse.org for much more information, including contact details for

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens



Passion Sunday 2020


We have a very active grandson, currently under lockdown with his younger sister.  Joshua loves practical challenges and aged nine – revels in Lego.  He has inherited his collection from parents and uncles in a variety of boxes so it is not clear to him which instructions he should be following, which picture to copy.  Truth to tell, he loves to embellish the design anyway, giving vent to his creative imagination. 

All of this is fine until his sister brushes by and – accidentally – knocks over this fantastic creation.  Then there is war in the playroom: tears, scraps and a dark mood descends until a more positive moment arrives when re-building can commence. But how will Joshua re-build?



Children’s play explores real life in miniature but few of us would have expected real life to arrive in the form of this current crisis.  It is almost unimaginable. We are now leaning to live a new sort of life. For how long, who knows?  But in the here and now, life is rapidly changing and so have our expectations.  This is a global change. We have heard how smog is lifting from China, pollution is dispersing over Italy and the canals of Venice are becoming cleaner.  And values are shifting. We look forward to an unexpected phone call; we ache for a daily walk; a tour round the garden brings greater pleasure.

At the same time as this terrible pandemic is being fought with all its practical implications and sad consequences, we are all trying to grasp its meaning at a different level. Moral, financial, spiritual as well as physical re-calibration is happening. The Prime Minister is talking about morality; new initiatives are springing up across the Benefice; we are all exploring a different register in our lives: a spiritual level.



Passion Sunday marks the start of the run-in towards Easter. Some churches on Passion Sunday distribute nails to bring home the message of suffering on the cross. For the meaning of ‘passion’ is not just fired-up emotion but ‘suffering alongside’ as we believe that Jesus came to do: to share our lives and lead us in a more positive direction. It was costly, just as so many NHS staff are sacrificially serving us all at the present time.  One man working in the Respiratory Department at Papworth Hospital with relations in one of our villages is not allowed to go home to his family for fear of infecting the patients.

The gospel reading for Passion Sunday describes the death of one of Jesus’s close friends, Lazarus (John 11. 1 – 45). His sister Martha rips into Jesus, saying that Lazarus would not have died had Jesus visited sooner. We can see in Martha’s reaction so much of the panic which grips some folk in today’s crisis. But Jesus’ reply is instructive.  He moves the discussion into that deeper register and suggests to her that Lazarus, as a friend of Jesus, shares in that quality of life which we call eternal. It is not ended at death.

We are all taking our part in this Coronavirus prevention, foregoing many normal freedoms.  There is a growing sensitivity one to another; a greater sharing of burdens. This is Passion-tide when we share in the sufferings of Jesus as he approaches death. He also shares our sufferings. Eternal life is reciprocal: ‘He in us and we in Him’ (John 14.20). There will come a time for re-building but now is the time of shared suffering and suffering shared is suffering halved.

But how will we re-build this tumbled edifice? How will Joshua re-configure his Lego?  That lovely story of the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel chapter 37) give us a clue. Bones scattered and isolated is not a living entity. It is only when the Spirit comes that they join together and live. Will we bounce back in the same form after this crisis?  I hope not.  This time of isolation, suffering and reflection must suggest a different way to live. Amen.


Christopher Armstrong.

the lent blog: stars & seasons

the lent blog: stars & seasons

Lay Reader Ann Robinson writes:

These all began in Genesis ch 1 when God created the world in which we live and whose stewards we are. God created lights in the heavens: the sun, moon, and stars. One of the primary purposes was to mark the passage of time. These lights were for “signs and for seasons and for days and years”

I am always amazed that the moon and sun and stars control the tides and the seasons and although there is part of me which would really like to understand how it all works and continues to work, there is a large part of me which is pleased that I don’t because the wonder is so beautiful. I’m sure those who do understand it all have the wonder of knowing how it happens.

St Paul wrote in his first letter to the church in Corinth, “The sun has its own beauty, the moon another and the stars a different beauty; and even among the stars there are different kinds of beauty.” When we first moved to South Luffenham there were no street lights and we could see the night sky clearly. Now there are lights and although they are down lighters, the night sky is still to some extent unclear.

I was fortunate to spend some Christmases in Chamonix and where there were no lights the sky was stunning and immense; in fact I had trouble finding a words adequate enough to describe the wonder and splendour. Every star seemed to be visible and indeed have its own different beauty.

We talk much about the pollution in our world and there is light pollution too with one third of the population unable to see the Milky Way. It is such a glorious spectacle but I wonder how many people look up at the sky? We seem to spend much of our time looking at the ground and scuttling around instead of taking time to look up.

The Magi were probably astrologers and would need to look up to study the stars. And they saw the star which led them to Jesus in the stable. They had the knowledge to know that this star was something special and the courage to follow it. They were amongst the first to worship Christ and give thanks for him. Do we look up and see the Saviour of our world?

We spend a lot of time talking about the weather often complaining but we are also aware of the changes in the seasons and just now we are in awe of the Spring; the fresh greenery, the flowers so cheerful and colourful. We will move steadily into Summer with the gloriousness of the scent of roses and the sound of bees. Then Autumn with the wonderful colours of the leaves and the drawing in of the nights and the reappearance of the night sky early. Finally we return to Winter which is my favourite season, perhaps because I am a Winter baby. Each season moves seamlessly into the next with its own outstanding beauty.

The world works with all the parts dependent on the others; we cannot have the sun, the moon and the stars without the tides and the seasons and day and night. God made our world for us and it is a great gift to us. Like a child with a toy, we are careless and we are destroying that great gift. What can we do to make sure that life continues as God intended it to be? God created the world and saw that it was good. How can we make sure that His world continues to be good for all of us?     



At the close of play tonight there were just 5 posies left in the church which represents a really powerful and relevant service to our community.  Thank you very much – and please thank your other helpers.



In these extraordinary times, such symbols take on greater power and remind us all – as the archbishop said in his broadcast today – of the part which the Church down the ages has played in nurture but also witnessing to the source of all life.


God bless,

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices Sunday 22nd. March

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices Sunday 22nd. March


Lent 4, Mothering Sunday

Please remember in your prayers those who are sick:  Ann Fowler and Barry Broughton.

Remember also in your prayers our sheep farmers who are working towards the end of lambing, and thank you that the lambs are mostly out and enjoying the sunshine and that hopefully the crops may be planted soon.  Give thanks for the spring flowers and songbirds brightening up the longer days.


In our wider prayers we remember the Deanery of Greater Northampton and its Rural Dean, Beverley Hollins.


Don’t forget our very own daily Lent Blog which can be accessed via the Benefice website, www.wellandfosse.org,

If you have now received your stewardship form, please consider prayerfully how you might respond.  We hope our campaign can be completed by Easter Day.

South Luffenham Church is open all day, every day, for private prayer.


A Thought and Prayer for Hard Times:

In this our first Sunday under restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we remember and give thanks for all mothers and remember those whose mothers are no longer with us, especially those who have lost their mothers just recently. We remember especially all those affected by this pandemic, which now is all of us but some more than others. You might want to use this short prayer to help pray in love for those who so desperately feel the need for love at this time.

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health and making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country, let us choose love.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbours.   Amen.

Simon Aley, Ordinand.

See wellandfosse.org for much more information, including contact details for

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens