Letter from the clergy - Sunday 3 May 2020

First published on: 30th April 2020

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we will be thinking about Jesus the good shepherd, who provides a safe place for us to rest, and gives us ‘life in all its fullness’ (John 10.10). That sounds like a very attractive prospect in these times when much that gives our lives colour, joy, and meaning may be denied to us, but we press on in hope, trusting our Lord Jesus Christ, who knows what we need, is walking with us through these difficult times, and continues to call us by name to follow him. We need to picture the middle-eastern pattern of a shepherd, who goes ahead of the sheep, finding a safe and good way for them, leading them to a place where they can flourish.

I believe that God’s call on our lives and as a church hasn’t been put ‘on hold’ because of coronavirus, but is now being expressed in new ways. It’s been exciting to discover what skills we have in our midst as we’ve learnt to share in fellowship and worship by phone, and to develop creative activities for children’s work and ABC Church on Zoom, enabling those who would otherwise have missed out to be included. It’s also been really encouraging to see how as a church, working together, we have been able to make progress in our online presence, and in helping those who are not on the internet to receive the help and support they need.  

It’s timely that this Sunday has been designated ‘Vocations Sunday’, in a season when many of us are having to work out new ways to follow Jesus and serve him. Vocation (‘calling’) isn’t just for special people considering ordained ministry, but it’s for all of us. We are all called to follow Jesus, to become his disciples, to grow in faith, and to discover the particular ways in which God wants us to use our gifts, making a contribution to our Christian fellowship and to our community.

At St John’s we are doing what we can to support people’s spiritual lives, as you’ll see from the notice sheet. As well as this, the Church of England has launched a helpline called Daily Hope. This is aimed at those who do not have access to the internet and all the online resources. Using a freephone number (0800 804 8044) it offers a hymn, reading and prayer – 24 hours a day. When you call, you can also hear a message of hope from Archbishop Justin Welby. Do give it a try!

Finally, we have a request. During the lockdown it has been encouraging to see people continuing their voluntary giving to the church. Every pound we receive helps to continue the work of the church in this community. The usual income that we’d receive from church hall bookings and special services has stopped during this period, so we are more reliant on our regular givers. Although the church building is closed, our costs unfortunately continue!

If you currently give cash, you may want to consider doing a one-off bank transfer or setting up a standing order (which you can arrange online with your bank or over the phone), or giving by card at www.stjohnsfarsley.org.uk/donate. Please contact Joel our treasurer on 07982 613834 or at treasurer@stjohnsfarsley.org.uk for our bank details if you wish to make a donation.

A prayer for this week
Risen Christ,
help me to meet with you and to know your presence,
to receive from you,
to be refreshed and filled with hope each day,
and may life in all its fullness fill me
and flow out through me to bless others. Amen. 

With grace and peace
Sue McWhinney
07484 181699

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