Fifth Sunday after Trinity
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today is the third time we will be opening one of our churches and I feel like celebrating each time I walk into church. Its so beautiful to see people sitting and praying in our buildings, being held by the Holy Spirit in the places where our brothers and sisters before us, in all their joys and hard times, have also sat for hundreds of years. And I look forward to celebrating the Eucharist for all of you, in person, in the not too distant future, God willing.
In the meantime, I, like all of you, continue to pray in my home. I’ve commandeered the little summerhouse which I’ve managed to rid of creepy crawly things, and have it all snug now, a place where I can pray without fear of interruption or distraction - except by my cat, though he now generally sits quietly on my lap as I pray. I think he likes the fact that for about thirty minutes I stay put!
One of Jesus’s statements that caught my eye this week was in Luke, chapter 18.19: ‘no one is good but God alone’. That is the sort of statement that sets one really thinking. I do want to be a good person, I’m guessing most of us do, and yet I know how often I fall short of what most people, let alone God, would call good. And I know this is what the general confession is for. I tend to favor the old Book of Common Prayer confession, it seems to be just that little bit more weighty in its sixteenth-century English. And I do know that ‘all who truly repent’ are forgiven. But still, sometimes the whole thing seems a bit too much, and I feel the creeping shadow of despair…I don’t want to be forgiven, I want to be good, but if no one but God is good??? And so my mind whirls round.
I was thinking about all of this in my little snug summerhouse, and then an answer came to me, divine inspiration? The movement of the Holy Spirit? I surely believe so - God often communicates with us in the quiet moments when we are puzzling over something, when the shadow feels close. The answer? At least the answer for me on this day was ‘to remember 1 Corinthians 13’. Here God’s perfect love is describe for us is explained in beautiful detail. We aren’t ‘good’ as in morally, spiritually perfect, but we are so loved by our God. Our confession, our penitence and our absolution are gifts that flow from this love. We are given the opportunity to reflect on our behaviors, and given the strength and courage to do better. And that is a joyful reality.
All shadows depart in the presence of God’s love, which
surrounds us and upholds us always.
A few notices:
Planning goes on for holding public Sunday worship which we aim to begin in the parish the 1st of August, if all goes well. These services will use a shorter liturgy and numbers will be limited. The Church wardens, PCC and I have yet to work out the logistics of this, but we will continue to update you through e-mail, the website and posters on notice boards. We will likely continue some form of on line service as well for some time as many will still need or prefer to remain at home. Please continue to hold everyone in our community in your prayers especially as the nation begins to open more widely. Take good care of yourself and of others.
Our dear sister in Christ, Hilda Oakley has died. I only met Hilda once, but I know she was much loved in our parish. Please pray for her family. I will be taking her funeral service and would welcome any remembrances you have of Hilda as I put together the eulogy. Just send them along to me in the next week or so.
With all love and the Blessing of our Lord,
Revd Professor Jessica Malay
Almondbury with Farnley Tyas