Rev Gary's Pastoral Letter - June 2021

Listed Under: Vicars Blog

Dear Friends                                                                                                        Vicar’s Pastoral Letter – June 2021

We do well to hear God’s Word in Ephesians 4:2 through the coming weeks.  Venturing through the remaining Roadmap milestones will be disorienting.  It’s exciting for many and good for all of us that society is becoming more social again, but we will need to be careful……… not so much about the continuing vigilance with the virus, although there is that, but more about showing care for others. 

Ephesians 4:2 says: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” 

This teaching was written to address the need for the Christians in Ephesus (Turkey) to treat one another very well in testing times, as it continues: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  In our times, everybody will do well to be humble and gentle and patient and forbearing.  As our society opens up, and contemplates the new normal that will arise, it will take time and certain aspects of good character will be needed to help us flourish again.

We’ve been used to doing our own thing in our own space.  We may need to be extra patient as we get used to rubbing up against others.  Some will have become more self-centred in a time of isolation.  Re-emerging into shared space will be a challenge. Dealing with others’ selfishness will not be straightforward.  Dealing with our own selfishness will be a crucial work of the Holy Spirit!  Be humble and gentle.

I’ve noticed how people have stronger and perhaps wackier views than I remember before lockdowns.  Missing a chat with those who think differently- we may have become more entrenched in certain ideas, which would previously have been challenged, and caused to mellow. A recent Facebook post I made about the lack of cards for Eid resulted in a sideways swipe at Zionism. Did I see that coming?   It will take time to redevelop the sort of society which helpfully removes our rough edges, and challenges our foolishness.  Be patient and forbearing.

One of the things I have missed most in these thirteen months is singing hymns and spiritual songs in church.  Singing words of praise to the Lord feels like more committed worship than just speaking. St Augustine put it well - ‘to sing is to pray twice’.  Though I am enjoying being back in church, even with restrictions, our Sunday services won’t feel like proper services until we are singing great hymns at the top of our voices.  Be humble and patient.

For some of us, the challenges of the last year have been overwhelming to the point of breaking us.  Our vulnerabilities have been tested beyond coping.  Our personality has been weakened or changed.  For those of us, the resumption of normality might feel like a bridge too far.  We need gentleness.  Be gentle on yourself and be gentle with others.

 

As your churches reopened at Easter, there was not a great rush back.  Some people are still anxious, but what about the rest?  Will they return now we are open more regularly or will Songs of Praise and Sunday Live, or watching other church services on the internet be more spiritually rewarding than returning to your church here in your village?  There are some names on our electoral roll I do not know nor have seen in church for a long time. Even before the pandemic I thought ,  as The Masked Singer on the TV put it,  “ WHO ARE YOU?  Make a commitment and come.  The church has done well to hold together in these difficulties but it is now time to regather, give thanks and use the last year in the wilderness to transform ourselves to truly be the people of Christ that God wants us to be.  Hold firm.  Have faith.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

This teaching from Ephesians 4.2 really ought to be in the English ‘road map’!!  At least, let it be part of our road map to the new normal.  Every Blessing - Rev Gary