Letter from the clergy - Friday 28 August 2020

First published on: 28th August 2020

Dear Friends,

It was so good to see some of you in person in church last Sunday, and to have made a small step in returning to regular worship together, even though it cannot be quite as it was before March. It was also a great joy for us to be able to host a small wedding that afternoon, and the theme of that service, loving relationships, comes up again in our first reading this Sunday, Romans 12.9-21.

St Paul’s advice to the Christians in Rome is very practical, in terms of how to relate to others and how to express their faith. He makes lots of short snappy statements: love must be sincere, cling to what is good, honour one another, be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer… bless those who persecute you, rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn, and live in harmony with one another. Many of us will have been living this out in recent months, as the joys and deprivation of living through the Covid situation have impacted our lives. We have perhaps discovered in a new way that we are connected, because we are all in this together. And we may have felt deeply the joys and sorrows of our Christian fellowship, because we are family.

It’s not all rosy; there are always people who will cause conflict because they are against what the church is about, and there will also be those who don’t mean to cause conflict, but they can’t help themselves when they are under stress. Paul says pray blessing on them. It’s hard to do that, but we need to try to be loving, to bring out the best in others, to live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on us (Paul is realistic here, we can’t always make things better), and to bless, following the example of our Lord, who prayed blessing on those who made life difficult for him.

As we look towards the Autumn, let’s particularly pray for St John’s to grow, and for us all to continue to look for ways to reach out to our community, and to nurture our work with children, which is going to be a challenge with the continued coronavirus restrictions. Do pray for Janet and Lorna especially, who have gone beyond the call of duty on many occasions over the last few months to make sure that the church fabric is well maintained, and that people are being cared for, along with others who have been faithful in phoning people and keeping in touch. You’ve all done a great job! We have decided that there is no longer a need for church to be open for prayer on Wednesdays, but do please continue to pray for the spiritual life of our church, for the person who will be our next Vicar, and for those in need, especially those whose needs may not be visible.

It’s not too late to sign up for the ‘Reimagining the Church’ Webinar on Thursday 3rd September which is all about growing our churches after the time of lockdown. There is a role for all of us in this, so if you have internet, please consider signing up for it. You’ll find details in the notices; it’s free, and all you need to do is to send an e-mail to comms.training@leeds.anglican.org

I hope that more of you will feel confident to come back to church in the coming weeks. We have socially distanced seating and other arrangements in place for your protection, and services will be a bit shorter than usual. I will be returning to Calverley to take some services over the next two to three months, as the congregation there also goes into Vacancy, but I will still be providing lots of support in Farsley, and you will also be able to benefit from one or two visiting preachers.

A Prayer

Holy God,
refresh us with your grace,
empower us with your Spirit,
and equip us to live each day for you.
We ask in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

With grace and peace,
Sue McWhinney         
07484 181699

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