Revd Gary's Pastoral Letter August 2020

Listed Under: Vicars Blog

If you are a Star Trek fan, especially of the original series with Captain Kirk and Mr Spock, you will recall that a standard line from Mr Spock, when they encountered some strange life form, was “It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.”  That’s gone into folk law and featured in a hit song from the 1980’s, Star Trekkin,  but that line wasn’t even said -  in that way anyway. In the brave new world of 1960’s sci fi,  Star Trek was going boldly (I am not splitting the infinitive) to seek out new civilisations and go where no one has gone before. 

There is a lot of talk at the moment about the new Normal.  That’s interesting as it implies something will change within us individually and as a society, rather than just reverting to former ways.   Going somewhere then where we haven’t been before.  But it’s taken us a dreadful virus to see that. 

The new Normal for your churches locally will be different from September, regrettably not before I am afraid (you should see the regulations and “advice & guidance” I have had to consider):  numbers in church will be limited, no singing and our worship will be different -especially Holy Communion, out of necessity. Our buildings will be cordoned off and our welcome stifled. Don’t forget, if you come, to fill in your attendance card just in case we need to help NHS Track and Trace.  What about Harvest,  Remembrance Sunday,  All Souls -  dare I say the C word…. Christmas?  We will be sick of the smell and sting of sanitiser by Christmas for sure, but it will be necessary.  No Communion at the Orchard Room at Colletts Green unless Platform agrees.  Our school visits and assemblies – may be online instead. One local Priest (not me…) described the possible church worship experience as being more like a school assembly than an act of worship.  It will be Worship , but not as we know it.  Ready to Boldly Go? Oh dear, I split that infinitive.

Can anyone remember what it was like 15 weeks ago?  Life and church before lockdown - how much we took life for granted, never really thinking or questioning. That was until COV19 brought everything to a halt.

Not only did lives stop but we had to change our thinking in order to survive. I  had a recent chat with a local stonemason and pub Landlord (sounds like the start of a new joke genre)  -  one had their business seriously affected as Quarries remain closed,  social distancing makes the carriage of gravestones an issue. Will companies want their historic stonework attended to?  What about those statues?  Then on to the Landlord who has seen his livelihood flourish and new opportunities emerge. Two different perspectives of Lockdown and COVID – literally across the road from one another.

So much has been lost in fifteen short weeks too -  lives lost and families grieving, and people trapped in isolation or shielding, jobs being lost and financial insecurity.  Mental health issues are increasing as some people are struggling to cope.  For some of you reading this, maybe YOU have felt lost , anxious or concerned -  for someone near or dear – or yourself.  I have been worried about a number of you,  yes -  you know who you are. 

Despite our anxiety -  there is hope and help with the burdens of life.

God himself is calling out to us through the fear, anxiety, loneliness, insecurity, and helplessness. If we feel no one else is there, he is, waiting for us to turn to him. Jesus is holding wide his arms to embrace us. If we feel weary and burdened - take on his yoke, for it will lighten the load.

As lockdown easing continues, and a new sense of normality beckons, we need to do what we can, when we can to continually help and love others.  As Peter told the paralysed  Aeneas -  it’s time to get up off out mat and walk but we must get up again knowing that our burdens are eased through Christ.

Let us trust in the Lord to carry our burdens and be lighter because of that help. Let’s Boldly Go and do just that.   Take Care and Every Blessing to you all,  Rev Gary