Letter from the clergy - Sunday 17 May 2020

First published on: 16th May 2020

 

Dear Friends

We have some wonderful readings set for this Sunday: Acts 17.22-31 in which we hear how St Paul was given boldness to speak out about Jesus in a place that had lost its spiritual focus, and John 14.15-21, in which Jesus promises to give his disciples all that they need, and to send the Holy Spirit to live with them and to remind them of his teaching. There’s a beautiful description in this passage of the close and loving relationship between Jesus and his heavenly Father, into which all those who love Jesus are invited.

Jesus is speaking in John 14 at a time of transition, just before the end of his earthly ministry, and the disciples would have found it hard at that stage to imagine the future that he was preparing them for. He speaks words of promise, reassurance, and future hope, and he knew exactly what they would need. We too are at a time of transition, as we are on the verge of some of the coronavirus restrictions being lifted, with a sense of uncertainty as to how life will look and feel, and possibly fear that it will get worse (financially, and in other ways) before it gets better. So what does the Gospel have to say to us at such a time as this?

I believe that we can take comfort from the knowledge that God has gone ahead of us, he has prepared the way, he knows what we’ll need emotionally, spiritually, and physically, and he has sent the Holy Spirit to guide us and to be with us, just as Jesus sent the Spirit to be with those first disciples. Those of us who live alone, or who are feeling particularly isolated can take particular comfort in Jesus’s words, ‘I will not leave you…. I will come to you.’ Some of the good things to come out of the lockdown have been a new appreciation for the simple things in life, the people close to us, our neighbours, and having time to reflect on where we’re going in life. I pray that alongside all the things that we are beginning to appreciate more, that we will also be drawing closer to our heavenly Father and discovering that he is present with us each day by his Spirit.

There’s been some really interesting research showing just how many people are turning to prayer, tuning in to online worship, thinking about God, because of the coronavirus situation. Now is the time for us to consider what are the good things about how we ‘do church’ now, what are the opportunities, what needs to be developed, and what needs to be let go of, in preparation for when churches are allowed to open for worship, which may still be some time off.

We are at a time of transition in the church’s calendar too, as we approach Ascension Day on Thursday, and the lead up to Pentecost on the 31st May, when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. If you have internet, do make use of the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ resources. There are lots of great ideas to help us pray for our local community, a prayer journal, and coming soon, a daily prayer app.

A blessing for this week

May you know God's presence with you always.
Whether in the joy and hope of obvious blessing or in the mystery and shadow of uncertainty.
May you remember that God's grace remains constant,
that he reaches out towards you with love,
and that his heart is for you, every day of your life. Amen.

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


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