Rev Anthony (Tony) Grainger
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 June 10, 2020  

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.”  Philippians 1:9-11

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It may be hard for us to imagine the challenges of communication in the early church - and the excitement on receiving a letter of encouragement (and sometimes correction) from St Paul. (Maybe they had not quite got to the point of calling him a saint yet!) The fact that letters actually arrived and then were passed around and shared is a wonder. That we have some of them today reminds us of similar challenging times in the life of the Church. It also reminds us of the encouragement that can be conveyed by both prayer, ‘letters’, word of mouth and God’s Holy Spirit.

I am so thankful for the love and care that is being expressed throughout the community of St James during this ‘cloistered’ time. I am grateful and impressed by the ingenuity and persistence of so many to reach out and make contact with others.

Around this time, a team of volunteers are making a concerted effort to contact everyone on our parish list; to make sure they have the help they need and to ensure they have a link with St James. We know there have been, and still are, some ‘holes’ in our communications. If you are reading this and know for yourself or another, a deficiency in communications, please let us know.

Like many of you, I give thanks for all the means of communication that we do have at our finger tips. It is one thing to know we can always communicate with our God without interruption. It is now a great blessing of our age to know we have the internet in addition to older, more traditional means, such as telephone and mail. And I take delight hearing how many have been able to adapt to the more advanced technology available. Personally, I still find ‘Zooming’ a challenge, but then to see and talk with a group of other ‘inmates’ is rewarding and encouraging.

I know of many such ‘encounters’ taking place throughout our community. ‘Business’ and administration continues with Zoom for the Corporation, Parish Council and Staff meetings. Small Groups have adapted to meeting on line. (I wonder if by next winter, on a dark and stormy night, if it will seem more attractive to stay home and ‘meet’ via Zoom?) The group that blew me away was the Ladies Thursday Morning Bible Study. Up and running on Zoom from the earliest days of the pandemic, it has prospered and even grown in size, I believe.

Nearly every ministry of St James I can think of has adapted and continues to function as best they can – from Caregivers and Prayer ministries, to Missions and Men’s ministry, and the Young Church providing ongoing programs. Even the care of our property through lawn care and maintenance – and beyond still goes on. And we have not neglected Outreach in the wider community through Good Food Box and tangible support to local families in need.

I would like to add my particular thanks to all those who have and continue to participate in our Sunday service. Much of it is done remotely; pre-recorded and then and ‘sent’ in via the internet to be ‘stitched’ together for our Sunday service. It would be a long list of names to include all those who ‘make’ music (instrumental and voice), to those who deliver the Word and help us make our Prayers; and for those vital few who ‘sew’ it altogether in the wonder of the internet. Bethany does her best to capture the names of participants each week in the bulletin. Your prayers for their health and wellbeing are of high importance. . For those ministries that I have failed to identify, you are all included in this thanksgiving for your faithfulness and perseverance.

My thanksgiving for ‘all this’ is long overdue. It is a source of encouragement and blessing; to be in a community that is doing its best under difficult circumstances, to share the love of Christ with one another and beyond. Consider, even now, of someone you may not have seen for a while, or perhaps by a prompt of the Holy Spirit, a name or face. Make contact, check on them; see how a word from you may bless their day. We are not all ‘fine’, all the time. The normal ebbs and flows of life can be exacerbated by the constraints of life under lockdown, or even partial recovery. This is something we simply must ‘be’ and do as Christians.

Just as the antidote to racism and injustice lies in God’s love for all people and the Gospel message, so our lives lived, under duress or freedom shall bear witness to the love of God in whom we trust. May you know the loving presence of our Lord and let His light shine through you to one another, and into a world searching for hope.

Tony
Interim priest-in –charge

A father was approached by his small son who told him proudly, “I know what the bible means!”
His Father smiled and replied, “What do you mean when you say you ’know’ what the bible means?”
The son replied, “I do know.”
“Okay,” said the father. “What does the bible mean?”
“That’s easy Daddy,” the young boy replied excitedly. “It stands for ‘Basic Information Before Leaving Earth.’”

There was a very gracious lady who was mailing an old family bible to her brother in another part of the country. “Is there anything breakable in here?” asked the postal clerk.
“Only the Ten Commandments.” answered the lady.