Seventh Sunday of Easter Message
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ
Patience, we are learning much about this word, this state of being right now. Because let’s face it, until the Covid 19 pandemic, many of us seldom had to wait for anything. If we wanted to go shopping, we popped out. We went on holidays, we visited neighbors, we had a coffee or lunch or dinner with friends, we changed jobs, we changed houses, we changed cars. It has been said that the twenty-first century is the ‘me right now’ age. And if we ever thought of those who were not as privileged as we are, we quickly set the thought aside. The present situation has shattered the illusion that the world is pretty much set up to suit us, that we know what to expect. The wise among us have always known this was an illusion, but most of us never really thought a virus pandemic had any reality outside of films and novels.
This has been hard, and most of us have gone through many emotions - fear, anxiety, loneliness, grief, anger, and boredom. I can tell you at times I just feel down right fed up with it all. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, I want the old life back with all its flaws and limitations. So, this week in daily prayer the readings from the Old Testament have been really good for me, those stories of the Israelites travelling to the promised land. We are on a journey too, we always have been. You could say it is what we are born to do, to journey from this world to God’s Kingdom, and every step is precious. And on every step we are guided. The Covid 19 pandemic has taught us how fragile and insubstantial this world is. It has taught us that we can’t just sit ourselves down in the dessert or turn our faces back to Egypt when the going gets difficult, because God intends for us to dwell in God’s Kingdom and as God’s beloved we are drawn there even when we resist, even when we feel we have lost all strength.
The pandemic has taught us many things that we may never have known or understood without it, like how much we value those who take care of us, how neighbors, whom we may never have spoken too, are glad to help. We have learned how much we have to give, and we have learned how much we depend upon God and each other. We are truly one body.
We share this in common with the early church we see described in Acts today. We wonder when God’s Kingdom will flood through the entire world, changing everything - establishing a time of peace, justice and love. We pray for knowledge of this, and we are told that it is not for us to know the time. That we are to ‘Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord’ as James tells us (5.7); or as we are told in Luke: ‘hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance’ (8.15). In this time, patient endurance is very hard, but as always, we know from whom our strength comes - not from ourselves but from God’s love and promise, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The early Christians, people also living in a time of anxiety and danger, supported each other in prayer, they looked to God, and they accepted the gift of the Holy Spirit. As the psalmist prays, so we should pray each day, ‘Cause me to know the way I should walk, for I lift my soul up to you…Teach me to do thy will, for you are good, lead me to your Holy Kingdom (143). The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us not just to make us more comfortable in good times, but especially to give us the strength to keep our face and our feet pointed true north to God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is not about belief, it is about trust. Pray, love, and care for each other full of trust in the love of God which Paul expresses so clearly in 1 Corinthians 13:
God’s love is:
Patient; kind; not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
God’s love bears us at this time.
It is time now for us to begin to think of what we want our church to look like, to do for the congregation and even more for the entire community who have endured so much at this time. How do we serve others as Christ served us?
I ask you to pray about what our church should look like when we are allowed to begin opening the buildings. Let us ask for prophesy, for inspiration, and for guidance. Many of us feel great anxiety about the practical matters, and we must pray to God and put our trust in God and not in our own weak selves.
We will face restrictions, and strange protocols, so how can we not only accommodate these, but use these to do what God wills us to do? Be thinking, be praying, share ideas, talk to people - both those who are church goers and those who are not. The first step is to open our hearts and minds to God and to listen. We have no idea what wonderful things God has planned!
We are all invited to celebrate together through a streamed Eucharist at 10.30 on Sunday through Zoom. Anadelle, our parish administrator, will be in contact through the e-mail group list with the joining instructions. Its very easy, so do try. It is not quite the same as being with each other in person, but it is so good to see everyone’s faces, and hear each other’s voices. Please feel free to forward the joining instructions to anyone you think may benefit from worshipping with us.
If you do not have the internet, or can’t get on to Zoom, you can join in worship on BBC One at 11.45. This service will be led by the Very Rev Kathy Jones who leads a service from Bangor Cathedral.
Here are links to live streamed services in the Leeds Diocese including services from other parishes in our area if you want to try these—they include morning and evening prayer, as well as Sunday worship:
I continue to pray for all of you and to celebrate the Eucharist for the entire community each day.
Thank you for all the love and care you are giving to each other, your neighbors, your family, and strangers during this time. Continue to be faithful in prayer and this will sustain you.
God’s blessings pour upon you and those you love, sustaining
you with God’s light and power during this time,
Revd Jessica Malay