Beloved in Christ
I trust that this has been a good week and that you are looking forward to planning or meeting some special family or friends a little further afield. ‘Normal’ will be appreciated as never before won’t it!
The bishops office is keeping us up to date with implementing Phase 2, and we are discussing re-opening the churches for private prayer at present. The Advisory Committee is looking into the future – phases 3 and 4. Bishop Ian has been in touch with priests and invited us to a preliminary meeting within Area Councils via Zoom. It will be sacred space to deepen our reflections on church services. I rely on what you think, and so our seemingly light-hearted Zoom meetings are critical. Please share your feedback and ideas with me by phone or email should you wish to. In England, for instance, weddings of up to 30 will be permitted, but no singing allowed. How important is singing to you and what difference do you think the lack of participating in hymns as against perhaps playing organ music or listening to a hymn will make? Much earlier, we discussed how we might adapt during the Eucharist and sacramentally… what do you think now? I am very aware that many who have been shielding will be ultra cautious re-entering events and group meetings.
The vital question is: what kind of church does God need us to be now?
Church visits: as yet no one has asked to visit church. I fully understand and respect that many of you are being careful at this stage. What is right for you is right for our churches.
Home visits: It has been a privilege to visit some of you in your gardens. All of you are wonderful people and I am humbled to get to know you beyond the paper or screen we are accustomed to. Even a phone call cannot make up for face to face! May God bless you, those you love at home, and those precious to you as we move to being able to visit their homes!
Please pray for Bishop Ian as he is now additionally Interim Bishop for Argyll and the Isles. I wonder how he will manage this daunting task, as there are so many complex issues within our state of being, in Scotland now, as well as within our own diocese, and even congregation. ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’ (Shakespeare) and he is leading us through unchartered terrain with grace and facility. I wil send him an email wishing him well and offering our prayers. Bishop Kevin is now Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, so your prayers for him and his diocese now too please.
I have asked Bishop Ian to record a video of a service for us here in Newport and Tayport. It will be a treat to have aour Bishop’s personalised sermon won’t it? We will also have it on hard copy so that we can ponder it at leisure.
Following, ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’, let’s shift to a more personal reflection. YOU! There is a fourteenth century British proverb whish says, ‘Opportunity makes the man’. I wonder if we could reflect on the opportunity lockdown has given each of us – have we taken it as a time of gift, or have you discovered some gifts along the way? Has your behaviour, or attitude changed? Have others – even strangers, been different this lockdown? God has given every one of us unique gifts: this could apply to each of us, diverse as we are: (1 Corinthians 12 : 7 to 11) Ponder these gifts and see which one or more applies to you. In Genesis 12:22, we read that we are blessed to be a blessing, so shall we live into this actively this upcoming week? God had you in mind when creation began, Ephesians 1:11, and we are assured that we are here for a purpose: let us , if we have not done so already, identify what that purpose is, and live into it with clear focus.
Let’s look at the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12: 4 to 11. By recognising our gifts, or naming the gift we see in others, our unique purpose, let us share it actively with our church. Church, by the way, is, in Greek, ‘ecclesia‘ which means ‘the people’. I suspect that some of us, me included, has been gifted new depth in church friendships. Judging how easily you share parts of your lives with me, how much more must it be if you have deep friendships over the years? That means, our family, friends and our church. We are considering how church would be: should we now consider how YOU will be in church. What will you do to add something new? Perhaps an action, an initiative, a proposal – which we need now more than ever. I am not saying the church needs to change, but rather what you bring from your heart and experience, into this newness.
Here are some prompts for your thoughts and prayers (some were touched on during our Zoom chat).
At this phase 1 of lockdown:
What relationship, perhaps a new one, has been a change agent?
Has your home circle revealed some new aspects of relationship?
What gives you joy in lockdown
What, most of all, do you long for after lockdown?
Has your home space altered? Have you needed to create a study, or a pace for something you want or need to do? Has your relationship with God/ your prayer pattern/ your routines changed/ modified/ adjusted?
I hope you are looking at the SEC Sunday service at 11 am. They are indeed inspiring and varied. The Thursday evening Service of the Word is also recommended: I a. always peaceful when I share prayers with others further afield. What is great, is that you can view services at your leisure, and I’m wondering if this ‘convenience’ isn’t making a big difference to young families!
READINGS FOR THE DAY
Last week’s readings (Pentecost 4). The SEC service focussed on the feast of St Peter and St Paul. Here are the continuous readings:
Genesis 22: 1 to 14. Psalm 13. Romans 6: 12 to 23. Matthew 10: 40 to 42.
This week’s Sunday readings
Genesis 22: 34 to 38, 42 to 49, 58 to 67. Psalm 45: 10 to 17. Romans 7: 15 to 25a. Matthew 11: 16 to 19, 25 to 30.
With every blessing. Thank you for all you are, and the way you love our Lord!