A Pastoral Message – Sunday 17th May

Dear friends

During this last week we have received the news of the gradual easing of the lockdown.  We’ve been given a road map by the government and the professional advisers that sets out for us the best case scenarios in terms of our direction of travel with some checkpoints along the way.  We recognise that there may be detours or U-turns if the scientific information or the statistics don’t reveal what we expect or stack up as we hope.  But generally speaking we have been provided with a glimpse of what the future might look like and how we might get there!

I don’t know how that road map is making you feel – content that someone else has done all the thinking and satisfied that at least there is a plan or nervous and vulnerable at the prospect of beginning to return to the big, wide world?

In our lectionary readings last week Jesus talked with his disciples about the place that he was travelling to and how they might follow him there.  But, Thomas of course, asked the question that may have been on everyone else’s mind when he honestly expressed that he didn’t know where Jesus was heading, so how could he possibly know how to get there!

At the moment, we probably all have a sense of where we’d like to end up, in terms of the journey ahead of us.  We want to be in a place where we can meet with our family and friends again, where we can give each other a hug, where we can travel on public transport, where we can go to work and school, where we can move around the country and the world with freedom, but we may be less certain about the way to get there and not particularly confident about the advice that we’re being given.

We’re probably all wanting to travel at a different pace – some of us keen to race ahead, whilst others of us prefer a more cautious leisurely pace.  That’s been evident as we listen to and read the stories in the public arena, but also evident in our own District as some are desperate to get our churches open again whilst others are equally desperate to keep them closed for as long as it takes for us to be absolutely confident that it is safe for us to gather again.  For now, of course, we are following the government guidance and the connexional advice and our churches remain closed.

But what of the journey ahead?  Well, Jesus, told the disciples that he was the way!  That didn’t mean that there was a clearly mapped out route – that simply meant that by trusting in Jesus they could be confident that he would lead them exactly where they needed to go.  But then, of course, as the conversation continued, the disciples learned that Jesus wasn’t going to be around much longer and that the Holy Spirit would come to be their companion and guide on the journey.

Jesus recognises the vulnerability and anxiety within his friends and he promises that they won’t be left alone – the Holy Spirit will come to bring them comfort and encouragement, guidance and strength.  They would not be left as orphans!

So, whether you are someone who is “champing at the bit” to get back to normal, or someone who is cautiously taking one day at a time and secretly or perhaps openly hoping that life doesn’t return to how it used to be too soon, you are not alone.  The Holy Spirit accompanies us on our journey.  However, fast or slow we are travelling, however many pit stops we need to make along the way, however many times we need to stop and ask ourselves whether we’re still on the right track, we are not alone in that.  The Holy Spirit is God’s constant presence with us to bring comfort, to remind us that we are loved, to reassure us and to encourage us.  We are not alone, we have a companion on the journey and that companion will stay with us wherever that journey takes us and however long it takes.  That companion will remain with us so that even though our church buildings are closed, we, the church, remain alive!

Holy Spirit, gift bestower, breathe into our hearts today.

            Flowing water, dove that hovers, Holy Spirit, guide our way.

            Love inspirer, joy releaser, Spirit take our fears away.

            Reconciler, peace restorer, move among us while we pray.

       

Holy Spirit, Christ proclaimer, wisdom bringer, light our way.

            Fire that dances, wind that whispers, Holy Spirit, come today.

            Ease disturber, comfort bearer, move among us while we pray.

            Truth revealer, faith confirmer, rest within our hearts today.

            STF 383, From Church Hymnary, 4th Edition 2005

Every blessing,

Gill Newton, District Chair