Revd Gary's Pastoral Letter September 2020
Listed Under: Vicars Blog
Hope is one of those gifts from God that comes to us at the most difficult of times.
Hope is a word that I’m sure many of us have often used lightly in the past. “I hope the weather will be good tomorrow” or “I hope Gary hasn’t eaten all the chocolate biscuits!”
But, as we know, hope is so much more, so much deeper, and so much more important.
Hope may seem difficult for us to feel at the moment. We dwell and ponder instead. Is this virus under control? Are people taking real notice of social distancing? Are my exam results good enough for Uni? Will we get away on holiday? Have I got a job after furloughing? Will I see my grandchildren more regularly? There are so many changes to our lives, to our world; there are so many questions doing circles through our minds.
And yet, as we ponder and move on to hope , perhaps we’ve recognised God’s presence and strength, and even peace with us, in a way that at the time of our worries couldn’t expect.
I truly believe that just as God has been in the past ,God is with us now, in this time, offering us those same gifts of strength, peace and above all hope.
This month, I am delighted to say that our church buildings will reopen. The churches haven’t been closed - we have been busy doing other things across our communities and on line. The doors might have been closed but we have been busy. I am sure we will need to discover new ways of being church, beyond and living with Covid.
One key aspect of which will be how we supported one another over the lockdown phase of the pandemic is how we shared those simple acts of love: by a phone call, an email, an offer of help to one another and to our neighbours and above all in prayer. We may have been physically separated but we remained and continue united in faith as the Body of Christ both here and throughout the world. Together that is a powerful force of prayer and source of hope for ourselves and others.
With the churches reopen, there is much to do. Our finances may not be great, but our spirit and faith are solid as gold bullion. We may lose some people, but will we gain others? We need people to help us in gifts of service, money and prayer. Could that be you I wonder? As far as I am concerned, Your Church, regardless of if you come to church is YOUR CHURCH. Your church in each of the villages I serve. You might not get that, but it’s true.
Last month I wrote about the developing new “normal”. Granted, the queues through Malvern Link and at the Retail Park feel so “pre-Virus”, there is something changing in the community. So much compassion has been realised through acts and deeds of kindness for others- some of whom were organised by the church or via Cllr Tom Wells. Countless acts of kindness have been done or shared with neighbours, I bet, you never knew much about before. Friendships might have developed. It’s time to build on those friendships, re-galvanise our communities, not retreat behind the triple glazing and slump into Netflix at the end of a busy day. And what about Sundays? What about Church?
So where is the community spirit heading now as the lock down eases, schools reopen this month, furloughing changes, the busyness of live resumes some sense of normality (whatever that means)? What does all this mean for you, me and your churches?
For what it’s worth, I get drawn back to the Bible for my inspiration and reflection. I came across this verse from the Book of Hebrews which I think sums up what we all need to do, moving forward:
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
We are in this together, and together with the God who loves us more than we can ever know or understand we will get through it. More than that I pray we will emerge into the next phase of this pandemic - walking in the light with our faith, hope and love strengthened and love for each other, and willingness to help one another when called for, assured.
Every Blessing Rev Gary