The parish of St George, Bickley came up with a creative way to celebrate the liturgy in lockdown, this Corpus Christi, Thursday 11 June.
The challenge was how to bring together more than three dozen worshippers in the same place, without contravening social distancing guidelines, or endangering public health: obviously, a group of this size could not come together corporately at the present time… but they were able to worship consecutively!
On the day when the Church gives thanks for the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist, representatives and friends of St George’s undertook a relay of all-day adoration in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, two-at-a-time for thirty minutes each over ten hours, 8am-6pm, beneath a gazebo in the church grounds [, in some cases braving the wind and rain!].
For a community for whom the mystery of the Incarnation in the celebration of a daily Mass is felt to be the heartbeat of the parish, this prolonged period of eucharistic adoration was a welcome foretaste of the time when we will once again be able to celebrate the Eucharist in one another’s company – and was at the same time an important act of witness to the wider area. Hearteningly, there was even a waiting-list for spaces!
The Vicar of St George’s, Fr Richard Norman SSC, observed, ‘Just as Jesus said that he had come to seek and to save, so today we wished to accompany the Lord into the midst of the world, by relocating our relay of eucharistic adoration to the public square.’
The Liturgy of the Hours was also celebrated in the “outdoor tabernacle”, and a Mass of Corpus Christi sung in the church behind closed doors, and live-streamed to the congregation via Facebook (as has happened daily throughout lockdown).