Letter from the clergy - Friday 26 June 2020

First published on: 26th June 2020

Dear Friends,

Well it’s all change again, as the government has announced some more relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions, and now it gets really complicated, as venues, workplaces, and places of worship have to interpret guidelines, balance safety concerns with a desire for life to ‘get back to normal’, and realise that in many ways life never will be the same again. The last few months have been a time of new opportunities as well as challenge, and it’s been wonderful to see the ways in which our church community has rallied round, reaching out to people, and showing how adaptable we can be. We have much to be thankful for.

Next weekend we celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the NHS, and we’ve been asked to make it a really special weekend, with a particularly loud ‘clap for the NHS’ on Sunday 5th July at 12 noon. Many of us have friends and family who have been working their socks off in the NHS, or who have had direct experience of receiving compassionate care from health workers in recent times, in the most challenging of circumstances. NHS workers have put their own lives at risk, and in some cases have lost their lives, for our benefit, so let’s show our appreciation in whatever way we can.

The Together Coalition has suggested that we might light a candle at 8pm on Saturday 4th to help us remember those we have lost, and that after the clapping on Sunday we say a personal thank you to someone who has made a difference to us or our community. They also suggest that on Sunday we get in touch with someone who is isolated or shielding to let them know they are not forgotten. Let’s join in with this.

Our readings this weekend include Romans 6 v23 'the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.’ We have so much to thank God for, not just for keeping us safe each day, but for providing us with a source of hope for the long term, spiritual life for eternity, not because we deserve it, but as pure gift. When was the last time you genuinely thanked God for the gift of Jesus Christ?

St Paul challenges his readers in Romans 6 by asking ‘what controls your life, what are you enslaved by, and have you committed your whole self to Jesus in the way that you live your life each day?’ And he spells out the consequences of working for what brings spiritual life, as opposed to what brings spiritual death, which is separation from God. One of the benefits of lockdown has been the opportunity to reflect on what we’re working for, what we put our energy into, and what our priorities are, as we realise how we feel when we can’t have access to them because of the restrictions. Perhaps it’s been a time to re-evaluate our relationships, our lifestyle, what gives us a sense of security, and most especially, to look again at the foundations of our Christian faith.

So let’s not lose the gift of this time to appreciate things in a new light, to be thankful, and in particular to nurture our faith in daily prayer and Bible reading, being faithful to our God.

A prayer for those who work in the NHS

Everlasting God,
at this time we lift to you those from all nations and backgrounds who work on the front line in healthcare.
Give them skill and wisdom in their work.
Be their strength and their shield as they give of themselves in the care of others.
Amen.

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


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