Pastoral Message Sunday 21st June

Dear friends

As some of you will know, I fairly recently completed the Couch to 5k programme and so far I’ve managed to sustain the habit of running for 30 minutes several times a week.  That may not sound that impressive to those of you are really fit, but for me it’s quite an achievement – I don’t think I have ever run for that long in my life before, not even when I was at school!

Anyway, I don’t want to talk about running, except to say that when I’m running, I always have music playing – it helps me to set the rhythm and pace and spurs me on.  All sorts of music accompanies me on my morning runs from Elton John to Ed Sheeran, from Lewis Capaldi to Laura Story or from Matt Redman to Michael Card – please don’t judge me on my musical choices!

Earlier this week as I ran I was accompanied by the music of Lauren Daigle, who is a chart-topping singer/songwriter from America.  She is also a Christian so her songs have both broad contemporary appeal and deep spiritual meaning.  One of the songs that I listened to this week was called “Everything” and has lyrics which begin like this – Even the sparrow has a place to lay its head, So why would I let worries steal my breath?  Even the roses, You have glowed them brilliant red, Still I’m the one You love more than this.  You give me everything, You give me everything, You give me everything I need”

It came back into my mind as I read the gospel reading appointed for today from Matthew 10 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  And even the hairs of your head are all counted.  So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

These words of scripture, along with the words that we find in the Sermon on the Mount and recorded in Matthew 6 which tell us that we are more valuable than the birds who are fed and the flowers that are clothed, all remind us that we are precious to God, we are loved by God and we will be provided for by God.  There is no need for us to worry because God will give us all that we need – how wonderful!

But, of course we do worry!  We worry about ourselves, we worry about our loved ones and we worry about all those who are particularly vulnerable and not necessarily feeling loved and valued by anyone at the moment!

And as we think about those amongst us who are vulnerable, perhaps those words within the song – “steal my breath” jump out at you, as they jumped out at me a few days ago.  The ability to breathe effectively is what those who contract coronoavirus struggle with so much and it’s what George Floyd was robbed of in the brutal and traumatic events in America just a few weeks ago.

These, and so many other stories that fill our daily headlines remind us of the inequality that exists in our structures, in our communities and in our world.  Many have risen up in protest against such injustice, some peacefully, others not so, but all motivated by their anger at what they see going on around them.

Maybe you are feeling angry and not quite knowing what to do with that anger?  Perhaps you are somewhat bewildered by the behaviours that you see displayed and don’t quite know how to respond?  Perhaps you are worried about where all this will lead.  Amidst all this confusion and concern, one thing is for sure.  Our God is a God of justice and mercy and he calls us to reflect those qualities in our actions and words.  As we turn the pages of scripture we cannot escape the fact that it is full of encouragement to live in ways that bring positive transformation into the lives of those who are in poverty, under oppression or held captive in any way.

I pray that all of us will, with the help of God’s spirit, be enabled to channel our anger, our bewilderment and our worry into actions which find us working together to build a world where all know themselves to be loved by God, where all can know God’s provision and where all can breathe freely because all are worth more than the sparrow; all are precious; all are God’s children.  May the wonder of God’s love for us, so take our breath away, that we cannot help but work for that kind of world.

Every blessing,

Gill Newton, District Chair