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St Mary's Church News 26 March
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The Second Letter from our Vicar
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St Mary's Church News 22nd March
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A Letter from our Vicar
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The Second Letter from our Vicar

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From Paul:

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters

 

Well things are changing rapidly just when we think we know what we are doing, the “rules” and or the circumstances change. Indeed this week’s thoughts are a day or so early just trying to react to the change announced by the Prime minister on Monday evening.

 

I’m not sure whether these notes should be more like a diary or more like a sermon, at least by the time you read it I won’t have gone “off-piste” as I can in my sermons. For now I think I shall reflect on the last week.

 

The first thing to say is that this is a very disappointing edit of my original reflection because The Arch Bishop has instructed that our church buildings are now closed to everyone including clergy, which means that where I had attempted to symbolically encourage the Parish (in the ringing of the church bell) that the church was still here, praying and worshipping I cannot.

 

Last Sunday at 8:30 I was joined by one of the 8:30 congregation, she was very saddened by the spiritual impact of what is going on and very grateful to know that I was keeping prayer worship and communion going on behalf of the parish. She understood that she couldn’t take communion but joined in with the familiar words from years of faithful worship.

 

At 10:30 I learned how to ring one of the bells (Thankyou Pam) and at 6:30 I was on my own while many answered Arch Bishop Justin’s call to prayer and lighting a candle in the window.

 

On Monday at 10:00 morning prayer I was joined by three others, we kept at least two metres apart as I took us through the service and the readings set for the day; we prayed for the Parish, the NHS & the Health minister, the nation and ourselves. Little did we realise what would be announced at the end of the day.

 

What has struck me is how appropriate the readings for each day have been.

 

Sunday began with Psalm 23.           

               1The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

 

               2He makes me lie down in green pastures;

               He leads me beside waters of rest.

 

               3He restores my soul;

               He guides me in the tracks of righteousness for His name’s sake.

 

4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no harm, for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

 

               5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

               You have anointed my head with oil;

               My cup overflows.

 

               6Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,

               And I will return to the house of the Lord for length of days.

 

v1 Georgina watched a live streamed service that morning reflecting on Sabbath rest and the need for the first world to rediscover true rest; we now find ourselves in a time of enforced rest when we will have to rely much more both on each other and God, rather than ourselves.

 

v4 This psalm though speaks from experience that even in uncertain and perilous times God is faithful and is there to help and support and protect “I fear no harm.”

 

v6 “And I will return to the house of the Lord for length of days.”

I have deliberately used the alternative translation of some phrases in the psalm because they reflect David’s life experiences, and for us in this uncertain time at the start of our isolation and limitation they are the best words to hear.

 

This time of fearful restriction will end and we will be different (and hopefully better) for it but we will return to God’s house whatever happens.

 

On Monday the readings were also relevant: In Exodus 2 Moses is found by an Egyptian Princess floating in the river; he is the innocent consequence of fearful circumstances and a desperate attempt to trust in God’s protection. He goes on to be raised through his early years by his mother, before being returned to the courts of his people’s oppressors. Then he runs for his life to a foreign land, rescues some shepherdesses, gains one of them as a wife (a token of gratitude from her father) and his first child is born; whom he names Gershom meaning “I have been a stranger in a foreign land.”

 

It occurred to me that until his calling Moses was continually a victim of circumstances; at every stage of his life he was in exile, or a stranger doing his best with the situations other people put him in. But all those experiences were preparing him for what, with God, only he could do and it would be amazing.

 

With all we’re going through just now we will feel lost and exiled from what we knew, we will fear for the future. But God is faithful and if we remain faithful in our homes, doing what we can for each other and for God: as we bring our experiences to God, and like Moses answer His call, and like David use our God given abilities in the situations we find ourselves in, who knows how much we will grow and be blessed and be a blessing: All while being strangers in a strange world.

 

So please don’t join me, join with me spiritually, every morning to bring all that we are going through to God because He is and will be with us, developing us and blessing us.

 

So may the Lord bless you, keep you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord cause His face to shine upon you and grant you His peace

today and forever.

 

Paul

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