Revd Gary's Pastoral Letter May 2020
Listed Under: Vicars Blog
It’s amazing what growth can happen from the smallest of things. From a seed to a virus. In the past week, I have been drawn back to Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed, how faith can grow from the tiniest of beginnings. Try looking it up: Mark Chapter 4 v30-32.
In our lives there are events which we look back to and realise how monumental they are. For some it was the first day at work, for others it was the day they got married. We also have moments we share with the whole of society. There used to be a time when an older generation was always talking about the war. Was the “war talk” an expression of relief or regret. If the truth were known, it was probably a bit of both.
The Coronavirus pandemic is one of those societal life-changing episodes which will be remembered and passed down. A tiny thing with a profound and dangerous impact. We are living history. We will, in all probability, refer back to the time before the virus because things then were different from whatever is to unfold in the future. Before the virus struck, my actual pastoral letter for the last edition of this parish magazine was bemoaning the fact that nothing was going to happen to mark VE Day corporately in the villages. With some rapid rewriting, we caught the moment the virus struck in an edition of the magazine that will go down in local history as an edition of closure, postponement or cancellation. Now, we are seeing an explosion of community engagement and support. Offers of help and support hitherto not seen before in our communities, even surpassing the magnificent flood support efforts- only a few weeks before. Maybe the tea party on your front lawn idea on Social Media will indeed happen on the 8th May to mark VE Day, as well as more clapping in the evening I am sure. I am very proud of what is happening to and within our communities.
What the future brings is unknown to us. There will be things that BC (before coronavirus) we used to take for granted but are no longer available to us. The Church will have its own set of BC memories. The old norms of social interaction will have to change. We may have to get used to the two metre rule for speaking to other people. As far as the church is concerned, we have been practising social distancing for years! Will there be a revival of box pews, with their ability to isolate family groups from each other, in the post “c-virus” age?
Many of us have missed worship. Yes. We can try Zoom, YouTube or Skype but those dismembered voices and slick graphics I have seen on some church websites feels a more corporate experience for each other than being a Corporate Experience with and for God.
Is there anything from our faith tradition that can help and inform us as we still isolate ourselves away from each other? We have all been a bit monastic over the last few weeks, haven’t we? All isolated in our cells - albeit with home delivery( if you can get it) and Netflix box sets and online gym and school classes to feed us.
The word monastic means just being alone. Have you been alone? Really alone? Jesus himself, spent much time on his own with his Father. We have the account of the Gethsemane experience as well the time in the wilderness recently in our Bible readings over Holy Week and Easter. No one today is suggesting that all Christians should become hermits, or suffer through the isolation for that matter, but I believe we can all begin to draw on some of the strengths of that way of discipleship to meet the present crisis. A Christian with some sense of the awe of the monastic or solitary life, will, I believe, have the capacity to bounce back from the enforced Churchless isolation period and will be stronger because of it.
I wonder, has anyone got closer to God during the silence, through the reading, through listening to a church service on the TV, reading any of the stuff I have produced on line. In the garden, or a walk , seeing the lambs in the fields? From the help offered or received? The care received in hospital or that period after a helpful comforting phone call was received?
Despite seemingly being closed, the church is being deployed in other ways and is helping to make a difference. Most of the flock are self- isolating because of age or infirmity, but others are out there helping and supporting, as we have always done. I hope in the post Coronavirus world or parish to come I will see the small seeds of help and encouragement grow to deepen the community spirit. Support for all of us will continue to grow and not be forgotten about, or we revert to our former ways. We mustn’t revert, we must continue. A big tree can grow. The roots are now down and drawing living water. There is faith and hope at the end of the rainbow. Continue to take care and keep well. - or to coin a phrase from the St David’s Cathedral Sunday worship I have been watching on Sunday’s– continue to be joyful, keep the faith and belief, and do the little things. Take Care - Rev Gary