Letter from the clergy - Friday 17 July 2020

First published on: 15th July 2020

Dear Friends,

Many of you will have seen Bishop Nick’s letter to the parishes recently, and this Sunday, if you are able to join us for our online Sunday service, we’ll be hearing from Bishop Nick by video. Do listen if you can; he writes about living with uncertainty, which of course for all of us is the new norm as we watch the news and wonder what’s going to happen next. He says we have learnt new ways of being church at the moment, opening up all sorts of possibilities, as we’ve discovered at St John’s. I’m delighted that we have people taking part in dial-in and online services each week, connecting with God and each other, praying for each other over the phone, and able to engage with services from their own homes, all due to a team of people who have rapidly learnt lots of technical skills, especially James Webster, for whom I am immensely thankful! 

Bishop Nick says we have opportunities, and we also have challenges, but he says have confidence in God, the Gospel, and the church; trust God and one another, we can do this together! 

I’m looking forward to hearing Shirley’s sermon on Sunday, and she too will be speaking about uncertainty, preaching over the phone, which I’m sure is something she never expected to do a few months ago!

Thank you to all of you who responded to our survey. We have now had a good look at the results, and we’re reassured that we seem to be getting it about right at the moment. We will introduce a few changes in the coming weeks, like a simpler online service, and in response to your requests we’ve already incorporated more photos of the inside of St John’s, and the bells, which give a lovely joyful ‘lift’ to the start of the service. We have helped a few people who needed support with using technology to access services; if anyone else would like help, please get in touch.

Our times of opening church for individual prayer are going well and have clearly been appreciated. These will continue for the time being on Wednesdays 2pm to 4pm and Sundays 9.30am to 11am, so do come and enjoy being in our beautiful church. We’ll have some quiet worship music playing during these times.

St Paul in our reading from Romans talks a lot about hope. The hope of creation, longing for liberation from the consequences of sin in the world, as well as the hope of Christians as they groan with frustration (Romans 8.23) that life is full of brokenness, and that they as individuals are not yet as Christ-like as they would like to be. There is a need for expectant waiting says Paul, with hope, knowing that our loving heavenly Father will complete the work in us that he started when we first came to faith, that we are already saved by faith, and yet are not the fully Christ-like people he longs for us to be when he’s finished doing his work in us. I wonder if you are finding this time of waiting, living with uncertainty as we see what happens with Covid-19, what the full impact of the crisis will be on our society, something that makes you groan inwardly, hoping that things will turn out for the best, and yet struggling to remain hopeful? Well be encouraged, our God understands how we feel, he knows that we have our limits, and he is with us for the long haul. Our God is faithful and can be trusted. Read on to the end of Romans chapter 8 ...

Romans 8.38

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future…. will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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


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