Letter from the clergy - Friday 13 November 2020

First published on: 13th November 2020

 

Dear All,

As we adjust to being in lockdown yet again, we will need to find resources to nurture our spiritual lives, as well as to keep us occupied. Do you have some inspiring spiritual classics that it would be good to read again, or is this time to make sure that you start each day well, with a time of prayer and Bible reading, as well as ‘Praying for the Nation’ each evening, as I wrote about last week? The good news is that we have been through lockdown once before, it isn’t the unknown that it was back in March, and we know that we have it in us to get through this. We just need to knuckle down and get into the frame of mind that will carry us through, drawing on all the resources that we have, and helping each other out with kindness, generosity of spirit, and grace.

On Sunday, Shirley will be preaching in our online service on the theme of living in the light and hope of Christ’s return. We do indeed need to hold on to the light and hope of faith in Jesus when all around us is changing, unknown, or closing in on us, due to Covid restrictions. The good news is that this light and hope can transcend the limitations of churches closed for public worship, because Jesus lives in each of us who call ourselves Christians, and we can connect with God and with each other wherever we are, by the power of the Holy Spirit. What a precious gift!

As St Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5.1-11, our reading for Sunday, we are children of the light, so as he says, let us live as people who belong to the light, being alert, looking for signs of positive spiritual growth in unexpected places, full of love and hope. This growth can happen during lockdown too, we just need to be ready to encourage and build one another up, looking for signs of God at work. I think this is the outlook that has inspired the ‘Prayer for the Nation’ initiative that the Archbishops are promoting, and which lies behind our desire at St John’s to adapt to the conditions we find ourselves in, which for now means putting energy into online worship, pastoral care by telephone and by conversations at the garden gate, and in planning for Gareth’s arrival, and all the exciting things that we’ll be able to do in Advent and Christmas this year.   

There is light in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1.5), or as the Message translation puts it, “Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!—came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.”

Back in March, we were urged to light a candle of hope and place it in our windowsills. Now would be a good time to light that candle again, to symbolise the ‘life to live by’, the truth of Jesus Christ, that is powerful, and transcends Covid, or anything else that threatens to diminish our lives, because he is Immanuel, God with us, and he’s with us for the long-haul.

A Prayer for the Nation (Church of England)

Loving God,
your Son Jesus Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly;
pour out your blessing upon our nation;
where there is illness, bring your healing touch;
where there is fear, strengthen us with the knowledge of your presence;
where there is uncertainty, build us up in faith;
where there is dishonesty, lead us into truth;
where there is discord, may we know the harmony of your love;
this we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

With grace and peace,
Sue McWhinney         
sue@stjohnsfarsley.org.uk         
07484 181699


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