The Church in Wales bench of bishops has issued a helpful series of questions and answers for worried parishioners in the face of alarmist reports of the impending Rapture this weekend. I re-print them below, without permission.
1. If the rapture happens on Saturday, should I still go to church on Sunday?
Yes. This is the Anglican church. Hitler couldn't stop us, and neither will the Almighty.
2. If the Vicar is taken, who will lead the service?
It is statistically unlikely that your vicar will be amongst the elect. If, however, s/he is taken and you are left behind, your curate will be an adequate replacement. Parishes without a curate will find that lay readers are trained for eventualities such as these. The staff at the Diocesan Offices will be on duty and happy to help; all six Diocesan Bishops expect to be in parishes this Sunday.
3. How long will parishes be expected to continue without a Vicar after the Rapture?
Indefinitely. Replacements will be found where possible; a Ministry Sunday is planned for June 5th just in case, to encourage new vocations. This will take time to come to fruition as new ordinands are trained. But many parishes already exist without sufficient clergy coverage, and have found the experience surprisingly liberating.
3. If the Vicar is not taken, is he still worthy to preach and celebrate the Holy Eucharist?
Absolutely. Article twenty-six of the Thirty Nine Articles has long established the low expectation for Anglican ministers when it comes to holy living or the quality of preaching. Why should anything be different this weekend?
4. Are there appropriate texts that should be substituted for the lectionary readings?
Absolutely not. The Revised Common Lectionary for Easter 5 is to be kept by all parishes. It may, however, be pastorally sensitive for preachers not to emphasise John 14.3, "I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am," or Acts 7.56, "I see heaven open". Particularly after the Lord has not taken your congregation to be with him and heaven has shut again.
5. If most congregations are taken but clergy are left behind, will the services continue as usual?
Inevitably. Many clergy & all Diocesan Offices will only notice the difference when notified of the collection figures. It is just possible that some places will record record sermon lengths this weekend if, against expectations, clergy are left behind but some church wardens are taken leaving any remaining congregations defenceless against excess.
This is a discussion paper for the Bench of Bishops, not to be circulated to parishes