Letter from the clergy - Sunday 29 March 2020

First published on: 28th March 2020

Dear Friends,

Well the theme this weekend is spiritual life, with readings from Ezekiel 37.1-14 and Romans 8.6-11. We hear how God breathed life into a valley of dry bones (the people whose hope had dried up because they were living in exile), and St Paul’s teaching that the mind controlled by the Holy Spirit is life and peace. Breath is a powerful metaphor in the Bible for life and the Holy Spirit, and it speaks to me this week as we are in the grip of an infection that affects our breathing. Do you remember how Jesus breathed life and peace into his frightened disciples after the resurrection as they met in a locked upstairs room (John 20.22)? He can do that for us too.

Spiritual life feels like a very appropriate theme for us, who have been living in a form of exile this week, unable to worship God in church, unable to meet our friends, and perhaps beginning to worry about how long this will last, and how our mental health will cope with the isolation. So how are you ‘singing the Lord’s song in a strange land’? to borrow a phrase from Psalm 137.

One of the things the people of God did when in exile was to continue to worship God, at set times of the day. I’d like to suggest that a healthy way of continuing to grow and flourish as Christians is to bring some spiritual structure into our day. So following the pattern of ‘Everyday Prayers’ from the CofE, to start the day with prayer, giving thanks for the new day, praying ‘may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you,’ pausing to offer the day and all its possibilities to God before we launch into the day.

Then at 12 noon, let’s all pray for each other, in an act of commitment and love, pausing to pray God’s blessing on those we would normally meet on a Sunday, or in some other aspect of the life and ministry of our church.

In the evening, we could find a place to be still, to be thankful for the good things of the day, to let go of the things bothering us, making us anxious, asking for the freedom that the Spirit brings. Then to reflect and ask the Spirit to show us the important and life-giving insights that will help us to grow in grace and emotional resilience, and to pray God’s blessing on us, and those close to us.

During the day, how can we make the most of the situation we find ourselves in? Can we find other ways of keeping active, encouraging eachother in faith, and in being positive? Within the guidelines for ‘physical distancing’, could you leave someone a card or a gift, see if they are OK, or offer help with a practical task? If you can get outside, try ‘mindful walking’, where you slow down to notice what’s around you, the beautiful spring flowers, the sound of the birds, the sunshine, and be thankful. Gratitude is something that helps to restore our sense of joy and balance in life.

If you have access to the internet, take a look at this joyful new initiative, from Paragon Music Glasgow, the amazing charity that my daughter works for https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2605549356388936

A prayer for this week:

O God, help me to trust you, help me to know that you are with me, help me to believe that nothing can separate me from your love revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

With grace and peace,

Sue McWhinney

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