As I write this letter in the middle of March, I wonder how things will be when you are reading this. Our situation develops daily – new restrictions are increasing and more are planned for the coming weeks. I am exploring ways of providing pastoral ministry and spiritual support across our village communities, in the event of a significant number of people having to self-isolate, and I am already encouraged to see more and more people looking out for their neighbours; offering to get some shopping in, picking up medicines, or phoning regularly, simply to chat and see how they’re coping. Please do this, if you are not already doing so. I’m particularly aware of some people’s experience of loneliness and the impact of families being unable to visit their relatives. I also hope by April that parishioners will know a local person they can call should they need anything. Perhaps out of an anxious and uncertain time, we might see in action Jesus’ words to us to ‘love one another’. The 12th of April also sees our celebration of Easter, and I wonder whether services can be provided in the usual way. As I reflect on what we actually celebrate at Easter, I see Christ’s light in our present situation. Amidst unease and anxiety, if we, in the context of our activities being restricted, can look out for one another in our communities, if our bonds of neighbourly love and fellowship are strengthened, then I really do see the light of Easter shining out. If our hearts can be enlarged to step away from self-centredness and look to the well-being of others, then we are inviting God’s grace into our situation, into our sets of relationships. In this we can rejoice.
I pray that when you read this letter, we are showing more about ourselves and our capacity to love one another, and not only lives shaped by fear and anxiety. When we feel our lives threatened, when we feel the familiar to be at risk, we can become consumed and too caught up in worry. In the Christian faith, God calls us to remember him, and to remember that he is with us. God is good and God cares for his people. The Bible tells of many times when the people of God, especially when their lives were threatened, got too caught up in what they didn’t have and so forgot that God was with them. In the current situation of Covid-19, let’s remember God is with us; to not be fearful; that we are to be patient and trusting; and that we are called to pray for others – to remember people before God. This is not so much for God’s sake as ours, for as we intercede for others in God’s Spirit, God grows our heart and fills us with his grace, that we may know his peace and sense his presence. In this way, we can bring a word of comfort and encouragement to others.
Let us hold these words from Psalm 28 in our hearts:
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts;
so I am helped, and my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
In the love of Christ,