Fourth Sunday of Easter
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ
Another week sheltering in place, everyone I talk to says how quickly the days and weeks go by. This is disconcerting, the days go by - but where are we headed? It feels like being on a train, but unable to look at a route map or recognize the towns we pass along the way. And it is at times like these having faith in in ourselves, our leaders, and even in God can be a challenge. And worse than a challenge, it can make us feel despair, fear, and even shame. What happens when our faith in God’s vision for us, in the saving Grace of Jesus Christ gets a bit wobbly? I know we are all praying, we are worshipping on line or with our prayer book, or with Sunday Worship on BBC 1, or even with the Archbishops new phone line. And many you may find your faith and your prayer life is flourishing in these conditions. But for others? So what does happen when our faith feels a bit shaky? When we, in the midst of our prayers, or during a walk, or while laying in our bed at night, think… ‘well, I’m not really that sure’. It has happened to us all at some point, so what happens when our faith feels weak?
What happens is that the Faithfulness of our lord continues to uphold us. Our trust in God never came through our own efforts, is not dependent on our ability to believe. Our faith comes to us through Christ’s faithfulness, Christ’s loyalty, Christ’s love. This is why the image of the shepherd and the sheep is so powerful. Everyone of us is that lost sheep sometimes. And rather than the shepherd watching us go and saying, ‘hmm, they’ll be sorry when the wolf finds them’. Our shepherd goes after us, our shepherd sits with us, our shepherd shields us. God’s love is not dependent upon our faith, we are dependent upon God’s love which is absolutely reliable. It is God’s love where we live and move and have our being. And we can respond to that love, even when our faith is at its weakest, by continuing to be faithful - by praying even when we don’t think we know how, by showing our love for others, by contemplating the beauties of this world and saying a huge thank you for the birds, the trees, the forests, the hills, the sky - even when we aren’t quite sure who we are thanking.
God knows of what we are made, and does not ask for more than we can give.
God knows of what we are made and always seeks us.
We continue as Easter People, as people saved, people rescued by our Lord Jesus Christ.
We live in days that are unique in many of our lives, days when we do not know what will happen next, And that is okay. We are each held in divine love no matter what we may be thinking or believing. And so for now, though we may not know what route we are taking in this crazy train ride, we do know our destination, it is God’s Kingdom in all its Glory. And if we have a hard time believing this as we go around yet another bend, do not worry, because God will believe it for us, and will continue to sit with us, drawing us closer and closer through Gods infinite love.
There is a new worship resource, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s phone line, Daily Hope, available 24 hours a day, and completely free: 0800 804 8044. It is a resource that will be especially useful for those who do not have the internet, but others may also like to try it. I have, and found it really helpful and easy to use.
Sunday Worship on BBC One is a little later this week at 10.45. The Very Reverend Kathy Jones leads the service for the fourth Sunday of Easter from Bangor Cathedral in Wales, with hymns.
I will celebrate the Eucharist from my home at 10.30, so before the BBC One Sunday worship service and invite you to join with me through spiritual communion.
There are also a number of other services and worship opportunities that will be streamed, and you can find these on the Leeds Diocese Website: https://www.leeds.anglican.org/covid-19 or the CofE website: https://www.churchofengland.org/.
If you are on your own and would like to worship together with someone else, why not try phoning them and worship together while watching the service on the television (or listening on the radio, or streaming a service).
The challenges facing those who are less fortunate continue at this time. Consider whether you are able to support the Welcome Centre in Huddersfield. There are easy ways to donate, check out their website for details: https://www.thewelcomecentre.org/.
You may wish to check in with a charity you support to see if they could use additional support, as you are able.
Thank you for all the love and care you are giving to each other, your neighbors, your family, and strangers during this time. God’s blessings pour upon you and those you love, sustaining you with God’s light and power during this time,
Revd Jessica Malay