April 15, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Alleluia! The Lord is risen indeed – and the Easter season is upon us. And it marches us forward in reminders of all that followed that first Easter morn. It's a wonderful season of events, retold in Scripture, all the way to the Ascension and Pentecost Sunday on May 31st.
Six weeks of Lent is complete. Blessings on you all for your faithful commitment to pray, ponder and follow our Lord all the way to the Cross. Perhaps another 6 weeks to Pentecost is an appropriate period of time to pace ourselves during these present trials.
One day we shall look back in wonder at such times – or wonder what we did during this long 'pause' in the life of the world. It is worth remembering that our sense of time is not God's time. C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity) wrote: “Almost certainly God is not in time. His life does not consist of moments following one another – ten-thirty and every moment from the beginning of the world – is always present for Him.” As we learn to trust the Maker of time, we can accept the reality of our fragile existence is secure in His hands.
I came across this thought recently: ‘Faith is the bird that sings in the dark’. Perhaps, by extension, Hope is in the Lord who waits with us in the dark. As we live by faith in the presence of God, so we can ‘walk’ in the present with God – even when we don't think much is happening.
Again, I encourage each of us to make a specific effort to mark each day. (Maybe some are already making the days like someone imprisoned might – chalk marks on the wall!) I was thinking of creative ways. For instance, some may keep a journal, a diary, even write letters or a (short) book; some may make it a practice to communicate regularly with others. Some may take on a daily routine or task, perhaps some new activity. Be creative in grasping this opportunity of 'time' to explore God's world and His gifts given to each and everyone of us. Again use some of this time to spend with our Lord and invite His inspiration and leading. (I would hate to be asked later; 'So how did you spend 3 months confined to home?' and not be able to appreciate something good that came of it all.)
The many branches of our parish Telephone Tree appear to be working well. Communication to everyone, frequently, is to be encouraged and ongoing. It does sound like we have a ways to go with this testing time – and you thought Lent was long! By the same token there will be need for practical help where someone is home-bound for whatever reason. There are a number of parishioners who have offered and would love to help in these situations – to deliver groceries or pharmaceuticals etc. So, if you have a need, or know someone with such a need, please contact the church office and we shall do our best to make the connections.
Some have suggested the idea of a marathon for these times. In a way I can’t help thinking that Christians particularly should be prepared and equipped for this long race in life. Perseverance with the Lord as our companion is the key. I have always found Eric Liddell’s (Chariots of Fire) comment “when I run I feel the Lord’s pleasure” helpful. We don’t actually have to run; maybe a great relief to many. The 'race' is our participation for the length of our life here on earth. However we are able to move, and that includes everybody - wheelchairs and crutches, guide dogs and hospital beds all included, we look ahead to the goal and always recognize the One who travels with us - everywhere we go, or stay!
One of the lovely consequences of the Resurrection was when Jesus appeared to the disciples in the locked room on the evening of that first day. In our day and age, I believe it still happens. Perhaps not quite in the same dimension as sharing a meal. However, if you have ever prayed with someone, or for someone long distance – by phone, Email, letter – even Zoom or similar, have you not sensed the presence of our Lord with you as you prayed. And have you never heard someone say, I sensed the Lord's presence when you called or wrote and it brought me such comfort. The wonder, that God blesses us, even in using technology, in such times as this to share His loving presence. No 'walls' can keep Him out.
The minister was leading a prayer at church when a little boy suddenly whistled very loudly. All heads turned in his direction. The embarrassed mother was horrified and pinched him to silence. After church she remonstrated: “Whatever made you do such a thing?” Matter-of-factly the little boy replied: “I asked God to teach me to whistle and he did just then!”
Rev. Tony Grainger