I am writing to confirm with you that, we are having to cease all meetings for the time being, because of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
It is a heartbreaking time for all of us having to withdraw from non-essential social contact, but we are particularly concerned for those of you who live on your own or are more vulnerable for any reason.
We do at least have by us the reassurance, that what we are doing, we are doing to save lives, and we must take comfort in that.
We can also take comfort in the fact that, though we may be isolated, we have the Spirit of God within us, at all times, if we choose to accept Him - the one who is called, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, the one who shows us the heart of Jesus. When Christ is our Lord, no one can ever separate us from Him.
I believe that God looks with compassion upon those who are suffering and (as we have talked about repeatedly over the last year) His plans for us are good. Even when we experience pain and difficulty and loss. God is able to bring good out of desperate circumstances. Good for ourselves, for others and the world. He is the God who in the Bible promised to give His suffering people ‘beauty for ashes’ (Isaiah 61:3). He is the God who even somehow came to Earth himself, and was prepared to die to transform us from hopeless to full of hope, from selfish to full of sacrifice, from slaves to our desires, to free people, driven instead by love.
We know that in this life we will have suffering. It has always been part of the Christian calling to be brave. However, our great hope is not only that one day all this will pass, and Jesus will right every wrong, and create again a perfect world. Our hope is also that on this day, glimpses of that heavenly Kingdom are available. All it requires is for us to check in with Him, and try to do things His way.
Some of the last words I spoke to you in a sermon in our church building, were the challenge, to ‘stand in the wilderness and still listen for God’s voice, and put your trust in it’. We need to remember that now. This might be our wilderness, but you are not alone in it. Not by a long stretch. He is with us. We have our God, and we have each other.
In the documents I send out soon I will detail some of the ways we will continue to be church together.
“Stand in the wilderness and still listen for God’s voice, and put your trust in it.”
Be assured all of you of my love, affection and prayers for all of you.
Cath Brown (Your pastor, as ever, learning on the job!)