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




 The readings for Holy Week

You can follow the progress of Jesus through that first Holy Week with the following selection of readings:

Monday:              St. Luke ch.  22. vv 1 – 23               The Passover Meal

Tuesday:              St. Luke ch.  22. vv 39 – 53            Jesus is arrested

Wednesday:      St. Luke ch.  22. vv 54 – 62            Peter’s denial

Thursday:            St. Luke ch.  23. vv 1 – 25               court sentence

Friday:                  St. John ch.  19. vv 17 – 30            the Crucifixion

Saturday:             St. John ch.  19. vv 31 – 42            the burial

 In the background rumbles the Old Testament Book of Lamentations, which is particularly apt for our present crisis;



Maundy Thursday

Service Reading

Exodus 12. 1-4  11 – 14  Ps. 116. 1, 10 – end  1 Cor. 11.  23 – 26  John 13. 1 -17, 31b – 35



Service Readings

Isa. 52. 13 – 53 end. Ps. 22 1 – 11  Heb. 10. 16 – 25  John 18. 1 – 19 end





Acts 10. 34 – 43

Ps. 118 1 -2 14 – 24  Col. 3. 1  4  John 20. 1 – 1-18

BCP Exodus 12. 21-28  Ps. 111  Col. 3. 1 – 7  John 20. 1 – 10


  If you don’t possess a bible,  please email me – chris.armstrong60@yahoo.com – and I will drop one through your door.






lent blog: Humans & Other Animals

lent blog: Humans & Other Animals

Will Joyce writes: 

‘To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…’  Ecclesiastes 3:1-2.

There are many unique privileges in farming that connect you with nature. Notably, at this time of year, spring lambs are born and new life enters the world.  The quote from Ecclesiastes sums up farming for me and the cyclical nature of the life outdoors. Every season brings about its own inimitable opportunities and challenges but above all, spring marks the arrival of new life into the world. 

Farmers are renowned for grumbling about the weather and after the rainfall we had this winter, who can blame them!  It doesn’t seem long ago that we were moving 300 sheep away from a flooded pasture in Gretton before the river Welland suddenly broke its banks.  Despite the rain, the flock has wintered well and spring has started with gusto with radiant sunshine! Warm dry weather is important for shepherds as it helps the new lambs settle into their new life.

My family has been tied to farming in and around Morcott for a few generations and I plan to stay here too; I enjoy helping on the land when I can – it brings out the best in me and gives me time to think about the beauty and semblance of nature, and also our Creator.  I have recently started a new career in renewable energy after my PhD but I am still close to the land.  I travel a lot with my new job but when I can work from home there is nothing more peaceful and mindful than heading out into the fields at sunset and watching the sun go down over the Seaton hillside.

New life is precious, delicate and above all unpredictable, lambs appear at all hours of the day and a steadfast commitment is required to ensure that the new life is welcomed safely into the world.  Moreover, the miracle of life is balanced with the poignancy of death and cade lambs who have lost their mothers depend on the shepherd for milk and warmth to survive in the world. Jesus died on the cross at Easter so that we could be forever forgiven and have eternal life.  The Shepherd and the flock are a great metaphor for the Christian Easter message.  I am grateful for the privilege to welcome new life onto the farm each Easter.

‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish.’  John 10:27-28

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 5th April 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 5th April 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

Sunday 5 April 2020:  Palm Sunday.

Please remember in your prayers those who are sick:  Ann Fowler, Gill Profit, Jeremy Bagshaw (Kay’s son); Coronavirus) and Barry Broughton.

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.  (The Priest-in-Charge has just rediscovered his!).

There are limited number of Palm Crosses in circulation. Please contact your wardens.


If you would like a Palm Cross delivering to your door please email sally@saltlane.com (if you haven’t  already done so).

If you are out for a walk on Good Friday there will hopefully be a wooden cross on the village green, for quiet contemplation. 


Please think of Margaret and Derek Barker.


Here is a short meditation extract for Palm Sunday but first you might want to click and watch this short Pam Sunday video – great for children of any age! Called Holy Moly! It goes on to tell the story of Maundy Thursday too.


You are in Jerusalem – a crowd is gathering. As you peer down the road you see them coming, men, women, a few children their sandals kicking up dust in the dry air. One man is riding, the donkey just a little small, so his long legs drag in the dust.  The stranger standing next to you points and yells, “There he is.”

Your eyes follow the line of his pointing finger. You ask, “On the donkey, is that Jesus on the donkey.”   The stranger nods. As they approach people around you cut palms from the trees and wave them. A chant rises from the watchers. “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna, to the son of David.” Are you joining them or standing back and just watching?   A victorious king rides a donkey as he returns to his city. What victory is Jesus celebrating?   The little party passes directly in front of you. Your eyes are drawn to Jesus. He turns his head. Your eyes meet and hold their gaze.  What message are you receiving from Jesus? What would you like to tell him?  The moment is fleeting. He smiles and turns to someone else. In minutes the parade is over. Did you wave your flag?   As you watch the little band of people pass through the gates, you realize the sun has dropped even lower. They disappear from view. How are you feeling now? What will you tell your friends about this encounter?

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

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens





APRIL 5TH 2020

A disciple’s viewpoint

I almost don’t know how to bear it. It has been the worst week of my life so far and I’m not sure what will happen now. He did give us clues about what would happen but we didn’t want to understand. Everything seems so final now and we daren’t go out in case we are arrested.

It all seemed so different at the beginning of the week. We had stayed at Bethany for a while after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. It was such a strange experience for us and for Mary and Martha. There was a feeling of—I don’t know—perhaps faith, something we could not understand but it didn’t matter. We were all together and Jesus was our Messiah.

Then we were off again and heading straight for Jerusalem. We remembered what Jesus had said about dying and to be honest we wanted him to go the other way! It was hard to keep up with him especially when we tried to go slowly so that it would take longer to get there but I think Jesus had sussed us out and just kept going as if he was on a mission.

Jerusalem was crowded when we got there; everyone there to celebrate the Passover. Herod had ridden into the city and he had arrived as a warrior with all his circus beside him. He was only there because the Romans thought there might be trouble and they wanted to have a presence. People had cheered him and there was a feeling of freedom and holidaying.

Jesus told some of us to fetch him a donkey and her colt. It seemed to be all arranged and it happened just like he said it would. We were somewhat perplexed about why he wanted them but we soon found out! Like Herod he was going to enter Jerusalem but what a difference. He was riding a donkey. But then it happened as he entered by the Golden Gate.

You should have heard them. What a noise! What a sight! What a welcome! I’ve never seen anything like it. Herod must have thought he was popular but people only cheered him because they felt they had to. But Jesus was cheered and palm branches laid in front of him, people running after him, wanting to touch him, be near him, tearing off their cloaks and carpeting the road in front of him.

And the noise was amazing. ‘Hosanna’ they shouted; Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’. And the crowds just kept growing and growing, their throats got sore and they were breathless with all the shouting and running. Jesus sat calmly on the donkey and seemed somehow accepting it all but sometimes there was a sadness about him as though he knew this wouldn’t last.

But we were so pleased that our Lord and Master had at last been recognised by everyone else; although there were some at the back of the cheering crowds who were not looking too pleased, some of the Pharisees and the Roman soldiers who seemed totally taken by surprise. But there was nothing they could do; Jesus, the Messiah had arrived and they could do nothing to stop him; the people had given their verdict and that was that!

Jesus went to the Temple, the rightful place for the Messiah and went inside. Gradually the crowds dispersed and Jesus was left alone (there was something quite sad about this). We wanted him to capitalise on what had happened but he seemed strangely reluctant and spent a long time in the Temple just looking round and being quiet, praying, I suppose. We wanted to carry on with the cheering and whip up the people again, gain their adulation and bask in his reflected glory but Jesus seemed to have lost the impetus.

We went back to Bethany. Jesus seemed to be settled there, although there was such a strange expression in his eyes, such melancholy, wretchedness and, I don’t know, grief. We really didn’t understand but Lazarus seemed to and they spent a lot of time together, often not saying anything but you could see the bond between them.

And now all that joy and cheering seems so far away and as if it never happened. Not only did we enter Jerusalem but we entered the most sombre of all times. This week has been so hard and confusing; the preparation that Jesus had already made for us to be together and share the Passover meal; the Passover meal that we celebrated with him and the strange words that he used with the bread and the wine; his anguish in the Garden when he prayed so hard; the betrayal by Judas with that most intimate kiss and the arrest. I was so afraid and wanted to fight but Jesus said no and I could see his eyes that he really meant it.

He is suffering so much now. The Romans won’t spare him at all because he has made their life difficult and his own people don’t want him either. And not only could I not keep awake when he asked us to, I didn’t even have the courage to say I knew him. Even after all I’d said about being ready to die for him. I have failed him so much; I deny him, I abandon him, I betray him. But I caught his eye as I passed and they were full of love for me, even me. He forgives me and loves me always and offers me everything. He never invited us to worship him but to follow him. He may not be a conventional king but he is my King and I will share in his glory and hope.


Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, we are reminded of how you entered Jerusalem to shouts of joy and celebration. But we remember too how quickly that welcome evaporated, how soon the mood of the crowd changed.

Lord, we know all too well that we are not so different. Our commitment  to you is so often short-lived, superficial, self-centred. Help us to welcome you into our lives with true gladness and to go on serving you, come what may.

Our world is in turmoil, people suffering and hurting. We know that you too have suffered and now suffer with us. May we remember that there is glory in your resurrection and look towards your light. Amen


It is said that a week is a long time in politics and recently it has been a long time for all of us. Life has changed rapidly and is now completely different. In Holy Week so much happened and yet the beginning of the next week brought such joy in the Resurrection. As we enter Holy Week let us remember that Christ suffered and he weeps with us now as throughout the world people are feeling lost and in darkness. Light will return to us and the light of Christ is always there in the gloom.

Keep well and safe and God bless



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.