Third Sunday of Easter Message
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ
We are now in the ‘dog days’ of physical isolation. We know that these measures are necessary and are a gift we give to each other, and all those whose lives are saved because we stay at home. But with no clear idea when life will ‘return to normal’ I’m guessing that many of you, like me, are feeling impatient, restless, lonely, cranky, angry, sad and many other feelings. And what we need in these challenging days is sustenance, something to help us literally keep our spirits up. For many, this is just a phrase. But for us as people of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, keeping our spirits up, is what we do. Living lives of faith and offering is as they say in America ‘how we roll’. And it is worth reflecting upon the words we say each day in the Lord’s Prayer because here we find the most important foundation, and reminder that God’s help is always present to sustain us. Each day we pray, ‘give us this day our daily bread’. This request, this plea is not about physical sustenance, because as Jesus tells us, God knows what we need physically. It is about the spiritual sustenance we need for our faith to flourish. Jesus tells us, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ (John 6:36). So let us go to Jesus and feed on the sustenance He provides. Let us pour all our sorrows and frustrations out before Jesus and let God’s spirit fill us with trust in Him.
Again and again at this time we are invited to lay everything before God. Most of our lives we’ve been able to do, to work, to surround ourselves with distractions, hopes and plans. Now we are restricted to the spaces of our homes, restricted to living in this day because we can’t even plan for tomorrow. This is both a challenge and an opportunity. Now we place ourselves entirely in God’s care. Now we turn to God completely for our daily bread, our sustenance. Now we turn our face to Christ and accept, grasp, put our full trust in his invitation, ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28).
And when we have fed upon the sustenance God gives us we can continue to be that light in the world that God made us to be, no matter where we are. We can phone our neighbors, we can talk over our walls, balconies, hedges, out our windows, and give others words of cheer, words of joy. We can smile and greet the people we meet during our daily exercise, we can write letters, e-mails, send cards. We can sing songs. We can play an instrument in houses, our garden, out our window. We can check on our neighbors and we can support them in a number of ways if they are in need, as we are able. (the Kirklees council website has information for how to access assistance for others, or yourself: https://www.kirklees.gov.uk/beta/health-and-well-being/coronavirus-help-in-your-community.aspx). And most importantly, if you need help, ask someone. You can’t help others if you need help yourself, and you deny others the joy of helping you if you do not ask and accept their help.
So you see by fully partaking in the sustenance of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to continue to do God’s work in this world. And then the frustration, the loneliness, the anger, the sadness will not have such a hold on us. We know that just by remaining physically distant we save lives. And we know that with God to sustain us we are strong and we can shine God’s light in the dark places.
In these days I often pray to God from the Psalms and this verse I’ve found particularly helpful:
‘Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee’. (Psalm 143.8)
Worship this Sunday is most easily accessible on BBC One, at 10 am and I invite all of you to join with me in worshipping at this time. It will feature a service from Hereford Cathedral led by the bishop of Dover, the Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin.
At 10.30 I will celebrate the Eucharist for all of the Parish, and I invite you to join with me in receiving spiritually. I continue to celebrate the Eucharist daily at around 8.30 a.m. after morning prayers, for all the Parish, again you are invited to join in spiritually.
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).
God’s blessings pour upon you and those you love, sustaining you with God’s light and power during this time,
Revd Jessica Malay