A Pastoral Message from District Chair Gill Newton

SUNDAY 22nd MARCH 2020

As many of you may be aware, earlier this month I lost my voice and struggled with my hearing for almost two weeks as the result of a virus.  During that time I felt cut off from others around me, straining to hear what was being said to me by those I live with and resorting to pen and paper in order to make myself understood by them!  Communication with those outside my home had to be by text or e-mail.

Every day I hoped and prayed for greater improvement, but when it didn’t come at the pace I longed for, I found myself cancelling or postponing meetings and commitments and needing to ask others for help and support – something that I admit I’m not very good at!!

So, two weeks almost of feeling cut off, separated in many ways from those that I would normally meet or be in touch with and isolated at home.  Not a lot of fun but necessary in order to recover and get back to normal!  But of course, getting back to normal wasn’t what was on the horizon!

Little did I know when I fell ill at the beginning of the month, that we would now all find ourselves in need of keeping our physical distance from one another?  I prefer to think of it as “physical distancing” rather than “social distancing” because actually we need to maintain our social contact, perhaps more than ever, but of course, by more creative and alternative means than we might have used in the past.

We are, of course, in the very early stages of this experience and there will undoubtedly be many anxieties and fears around about just how long this is going to last, whether we ourselves will become ill or not and what life will be like when we do emerge from the other side of all of this.  None of us know the answers to any of those questions.

But, in these days of separation and isolation from one another, one thing we can be sure of is what Paul reminded his Roman readers of when he said “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.  Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8 v 38-39)

In these strange and challenging days, I encourage you to hold on to that truth that “nothing separates us from God’s love” and use the time that maybe becomes available to you in these unusual days to focus on staying connected to God himself – read God’s word, pray, use some of the many online resources that are available to us.

I have been incredibly impressed by the imaginative ways in which ministers and churches across this District are staying connected and enabling worship and prayer to continue. So, let’s do all we can to stay connected to one another and invest in our relationships, to learn more about what it means to be “church” in these times and most important of all, stay connected and be attentive to God himself who is the source of our security and our peace in these days.

Gill Newton

District Chair