Letter from the clergy - Friday 6 November 2020

First published on: 6th November 2020

Dear All,

Since I last wrote events have changed very quickly, and we find ourselves in lockdown again, which feels disappointing, but necessary, in order to protect those in our society who are most vulnerable, and to maximise the possibility of seeing family members at Christmas-time.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have called for November to be a month of prayer, and specifically for us all to pray at 6pm each evening, which is a practical outworking of our faith that I’d like to commend to you. They have published some online resources to help us pray for the nation, on the Church of England website.

The Archbishops call us to be calm, reaching out to our neighbours as we did during the first lockdown, remembering that we can be stronger together in situations that seem impossible if we go it alone. Secondly, they call us to be courageous, not to give in to fear, but to remember the story of Jesus calming the waves (Mark 4.35-41), to give our fears to Jesus, and have faith in Him. Thirdly, they call us to be compassionate. Many of us are holding pain - our own, and the pain of those we love - and we will need to be gentle, kind and patient with each other, as the pain, stress and uncertainty of the current situation expresses itself in uncharacteristic ways, and the weariness of living in a pandemic kicks in. Even though there is much darkness around us, there is light in the darkness, and as the season of Advent approaches, we can look forward with hope and joy. Jesus is coming, and indeed is already here, alive and well by the power of his Spirit, amongst us his people. There is light in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1.5).

We’ve had to lay aside our carefully made plans to have a special Remembrance Sunday service at St John’s, and this will now be online, accessible via our recorded service page on the website, Facebook, and our YouTube channel. I do hope that those of you with internet access will be able to join with us on Sunday, as we mark with respect the sacrifice of all those who gave their lives to enable us to live in freedom. Do also of course feel free to watch or listen to the national Remembrance events that will enable you to observe the 2 minutes' silence at 11am.  

I will be preaching on John 15.9-17 online, when Jesus tells his disciples of his great love for them, and that he would lay his life down for them. Remember that he also called them to ‘remain in his love.’ For us that means to keep close to him, keep in fellowship with him, keep inviting him in to our lives, so that he can sustain us and refresh us, and warm our hearts with his love. And then we will bear fruit, fruit that will last (v16), and that’s what we all need just now. The fruit of the joy of the Lord, faithfulness in prayer, gentleness, peacefulness in times of stress, kindness to those around us, and love. May God bless us all and make us fruitful!     

A Prayer for the church family (Church of England)

Loving God, you know us and all that we are facing.
We thank you that we can come to you as we are – with all our fears and concerns, our difficulties and our challenges.
Please draw close to each of us and those we remember before you now.
Bring to us your peace and comfort.
And fill us with your Spirit that we may be bearer of your grace and hope to others.
As a country, protect us, encourage us, and keep us.
In the powerful name of your Son Jesus we pray.

With grace and peace,
Sue McWhinney         
07484 181699

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