Letters Podcast

Letter to Parishioners, 17 April 2020

Listen to or read a letter from Revd Stephen to Parishioners, Friday, 17 April 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

We now know that the nation is to remain in the current state of lockdown for a further three weeks.  This has not come as a surprise to most people and, already, I have detected a sense of resignation in the air.

Of course, this ‘lockdown’ situation is not dissimilar from the position the disciples found themselves in immediately after the resurrection.  For them, the time between Jesus’ trial and crucifixion and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a time of doubt and fear.  ‘Doubt’ because of the sheer enormity of what had happened – who could possibly believe that someone had been raised from the dead?  ‘Fear’ because the fulfilling of all that Christ had promised had made them targets for jealous and vengeful authorities who, in their turn, felt threatened by the new power that had arisen in the world.

However, as we read the Gospel narrative, we encounter something else that can help us through our current situation.  We see people coming to the realisation that God’s love for humanity and God’s constant presence in the world is very real indeed.  We see the scales of doubt falling from the eyes of those whose reliance on worldly wisdom was overturned by the joy of the Easter message.  We see fear being turned into resolution and strength as mere mortals found that reliance on God offered so much more than reliance on human brute force.

So, where does that put us all today?  Almost a month after our period of lockdown began, we have settled into routines.  We have learnt how to support friends and neighbours who are vulnerable – even those neighbours whose names we have never been that sure of.  We have learnt that our relationship with God can continue and grow if we make the effort to read our bibles and offer our prayers – even if we do that away from our medieval masterpieces.  We have learnt that we do not have to cower in fear and despair if we trust that, unbelievable as it may seem, God is with us through all the trials and challenges of these uncertain times.

Our church website is seeing ever increasing numbers of people engaging with our ministry to this community.  What is truly amazing is that that engagement is not just focused in our benefice, or our deanery and diocese for that matter.  We are seeing people using our prayer resources from several other countries as well.  Even during our time of lockdown we are being evangelists and we are spreading the good news of Christ.

Dear friends, these are not easy times, but when has being a faithful Christian ever been easy?  But … these are times in which God is still very much alive and present in our midst.  It is my prayer that you remain constantly aware of that presence and life as you go on from day to day.

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen