“Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” (see Luke 1:26-38) March 25, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today, March 25th, in the liturgical calendar is the Annunciation of the Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In short, the day we remember how the Lord visited Mary and gave her such incredible news – God’s on his way into your world! And we can remember and remind ourselves that he has been ‘here’ ever since. Indeed we can claim those words quoted above – we too are indeed highly favoured, dearly loved by our Lord; and He is with us, now and always.
Mary was the first to assent to God with the words ‘Thy Will be done’. It is our part to assent to God in our life, as in the Lord’s Prayer – ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done’. By these words we assent to working with God and Him working in and through us. “Without God, we cannot; without us, God will not.”
Not only is that Good News, but also nothing stops God from ‘visiting’ with any of us in these time – perhaps not with quite that same life-changing news! More likely with messages of comfort, encouragement, guidance and hope. All the more reason to use some of the time many of us have to ‘tune-in’ to quiet times and prayer times throughout our day.
Back in September, I proposed an image of St James Church and its people to be like a great sailing ship, a tall ship; with billowing sails representing all the activities and ministries that we are involved in – Worship, Mission, governance etc. And I described the activity required to maintain that ‘ship’; how we work together to keep the ship on course and caring for one and all 'on board'. The image seemed to resonate and we have ‘sailed’ along since with everyone pitching in to ensure plain sailing until the new ‘captain’ is piped aboard.
However, I went on to describe certain events that can impact such a vessel or church community. Such as the effects of the wind; how too much in storms can blow us off course, and too little can bring dead calm, as in the Doldrums. In a storm, everyone aboard is madly doing their part to keep the ship afloat; in the latter condition, it is a challenge for the whole crew to keep busy and out of mischief.
It would seem we have come to a curious place and time, in the world, in our community and for each and every one of us. All around us it seems a mighty ‘storm’ is raging due to Covid-19. And yet within our Church building and our homes there is a relative calm, a sense of going nowhere, of waiting – and sometimes it seems we don’t know what we are waiting for.
On a ship, some sailors would ‘whistle for a wind’. We have a more potent call, through our prayers to the Lord of Creation; the One who sends the wind of the Holy Spirit to remind us, guide us and lead us in such times. And as I said last Sunday, who knows what our God can do, will do with all the prayers going up to Him right now from believers all around the world.(“May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” Ps.141:2)
As well as prayer to our Lord, I encourage everyone to think of others you know, however slightly (ask the Lord for a name?). Email and social networks are good but a call by phone is, I believe, more personal. Commit to forming a small ‘branch’ of a larger parish-wide telephone tree and to stay in touch, especially with those who do not have internet access. (Where it’s appropriate, let the church office know of anyone who is without internet so we can arrange to mail communications.)
It occurred to me that if you would like to borrow a book from the church; such as a prayer book (BAS or BCP) or a hymn book, even a bible, during these days, please drop by and do that. And if there is a need for a Daily Lectionary guide, please let me know.
Spending time with our Lord is a relationship that will keep us growing when we are not sure where or when we are going. (See: Hebrews 11:8. We too been called to go to a place we will later receive as our inheritance, even though we do not know the way.) Stay close; following Jesus is the Way.
Thank you to those who responded to our appeal for technical help, and for worship assistance in putting together a website service last week. We shall endeavor to continue this as long as possible.
Every blessing in this fifth week of Lent. He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Ps. 46:10)
A little boy was praying:’ Dear God, please take care of my dad and my mom and my sister and brother and my dog and me. Oh, and please take care of yourself, God. If anything happens to you, we’re going to be in a big mess.”
Rev. Tony Grainger