Letter from the clergy - Monday 23 March 2020

Dear Friends.

We find ourselves living in exceptional times, and I’m so sorry that we’re not able to meet in church now, due to the rapid spread of Coronavirus. I ended up taking a Communion service last Sunday on my own, as advised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in a new form of worship, said ‘on behalf of the people.’ For those able to access the internet, it is now available on our St John's Farsley YouTube channel, as well as here in the new Recorded Services section of our website.

But for those of you who aren’t online, we thought we’d start a weekly clergy letter with some devotional material and prayers that might help you to feel connected, as we work out new ways of being church. We don’t know how long we’ll be able to deliver these for, but we’ll do our best!

This week, our hearts may be overflowing with a sense of loss, as we struggle to come to terms with what’s happening in our country. Maybe the best analogy is that this feels like a very long Holy Saturday. We are waiting in the dark, not sure how long this will go on for.

As I extinguished the pink candle last Sunday, a colour normally reserved for celebrations, I asked people watching the video to pause and reflect, to let go of the things that are making us anxious and stressed, to lay them at the feet of our Lord, and to hold on to his promises.

‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.(Matthew 11.29)

‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned…. I am the Lord, I have called you by name, you are mine.’ (Isaiah 43.1-2)

'The Lord is my light, and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?' (Psalm 27.1)

So we hold on in trust to the belief that God is working for us, and through us, so we can be at peace, knowing that he is greater than any disease, or fear that we might have. Our God is a miracle worker, a light in the darkness, the one who opens up new possibilities for us at times of trial. Let us allow God to minister to us, and to help us see that he is in our midst.

On a practical note, we are joining in with the Pudsey Community Project, being set up to co-ordinate volunteers and supplies for the most isolated local people, who need help with food shopping, collecting prescriptions, dog walking etc. I am so encouraged to hear of the wonderful acts of kindness and care that are being offered for others in our community at this time.

Please contact Janet on 07745 036515 or Lorna on 07786 840699 if you need support.

A prayer for this week:

Keep us good Lord under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low, that we may rejoice in your comfort, knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Revd Sue McWhinney (07484 181699)


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