I do hope you are all safe and well? We are living through exceptional and extraordinary times. Who would have thought as we welcomed in the New year, three months ago that our city, country and increasingly our world would be in lock down, fighting this pernicious foe.
There are lots of challenges to this situation, not least the isolation, but there are also good challenges. Who would have thought so many of us would become so competent on social media? Zoom and Whereby (video conferencing apps) are amazing. As a clergy team we meet every morning at 9am to say morning prayer together. Today many of the clergy of the Kensington Area joined Bishop Graham at 9am to say morning prayer. With so many clergy online at the same time, thank God for the mute button!
During our Office (our prayers) we are reading from the book of the Exodus. Specifically the first few chapters which tell of the battle Moses has with Pharaoh to ‘Let my people go’. We are now reading the 9th chapter and God is really getting going with multiple disasters, this morning it was boils and pestilence. What we are experiencing now might feel a bit epic, a bit biblical – we have our own pestilence to deal with. But of course the book of the Exodus is not really about the disasters which befall the people of Israel and Egypt, but the faithfulness of God. God through Moses leads his people to freedom and despite the people’s fickleness and stubbornness and sinfulness, God does not abandon them, God accompanies them on their difficult and frightening journey. So it is with us, God is with us in this situation. As Saint Paul says in his letter to the Romans “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Finally, in these difficult days there are amazing signs of hope and love. Of the dedication of all those involved in the healthcare professions who are doing such amazing things. Of neighbours who are being extraordinarily generous of their time for the most vulnerable. On Sunday I was walking the dogs and decided to buy some tomatoes at Mario’s little cafe and deli on Chiswick Mall. Not only would he not allow me to pay for my purchase, but he made a donation to church. If you are walking past, why not stop and say ‘Thank You’ better still buy some of his amazing food!
With my love and prayers
I hope that everyone reading this message is keeping safe and well in these extraordinary times.
The internet is really coming into its own for those of us who can communicate electronically, although my mind and my email inbox seem to be suffering from information overload! I would just like to share with you a couple of reflections I have read this week which I have found particularly thought provoking.
The first comes from an article in the Tablet magazine published last Friday.
Pope Francis this evening delivered a damning indictment of the modern, consumerist lifestyle and said the coronavirus crisis was the time of “our judgement”, meaning a time for us to choose a different lifestyle.
Praising the “ordinary people” who have come to the fore in the crisis, helping the sick and vulnerable, the Pope called on society to get lives “back on track”. Referring to the story of Jesus calming the storm, he continued:
Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick. Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: ‘Wake up, Lord’.
The second is an extract from a comforting poem by the Irish poet John O’Donohue (1956-2008)
This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.
With every blessing