Third Sunday Before Advent
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Another week, another form of restrictions…though I have to say that I’m now quite used to staying at home and having a very circumscribed social life (not that it was ever a particularly wild one!). In this area we’ve never really been ‘let loose’ so to speak and I don’t know about you, but I’m getting my ‘covid legs’ in that I know what to do when I’m feeling isolated - generally a call to my brother George in Oregon helps with that he is always a good story teller, or a good old walk in the fields and forests around Honley. Of course, there are still plenty of Teams and Zoom meetings, lots of e-mail with colleagues and students, some on-line teaching, and always prayer. I think my morning prayer may actually be getting a bit indulgent as it is stretching out to about forty-five minutes…sometimes I think even God nudges me to get off to work in the morning. But I just love sitting in my prayer space (out in the ‘summer house’…or glorified garden shed) and setting the world aside for a bit.
My greatest trial right now is that we can’t join in worship. It was the highlight of each week, and it helped me for us to be altogether in our Lord Jesus. Still, we will worship on our Zoom. Do try and log in these next four weeks if you can. There is a way to phone in as well, so perhaps some brave soul will try this and let us know how it works so others who are not on the internet can join in our worship.
So, it has been a week of readjusting… wearisome but then we are a resilient people aren’t we. Last week I talked about the psalms that I was finding very encouraging to me during this time, and some of you shared the ones that touch your heart which I thank you for. I’m still stuck on Psalm 139, and especially this week the lines ‘If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea…Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.’ It’s the knowledge that no matter where I am, God leads me and upholds me that fills me with comfort. And then ‘If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me…Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.’ This assurance, this knowledge that there is no darkness that God cannot pierce, indeed that there is no darkness to God, and that what we perceive as darkness disappears when we recognize God’s presence, a presence that is always accessible to us, indeed God sits holding our hand where we bask in God’s light even when it feels like things are very dark.
As I said last week, the Psalms are surely a gift that we have been given by God to help us know God’s ways and to comfort us. And when you think that some of the Psalms are over 3000 years old - and Psalm 139 is one of the oldest, then how amazing and how constant is our God, to know exactly what we would need to know, to hear, to sustain us throughout the centuries as we journey to God’s Kingdom. And so our journey continues, and we travel together in God’s presence and covered in God’s love through his son Jesus Christ.
And the Blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon us all.
Revd Professor Jessica Malay
Almondbury with Farnley Tyas