Pastoral Letter - 15th April
Huge thanks to Charlotte and Antoine West for facilitating Easter Sunday's Alleluia Service and ensuring that the technology worked; to Judy Britton, Geoff Noble, Lesley Prior, Simon Shelly, Judy Collins and Barbara Williams for the heartfelt contributions they each made; to all those of you who took the trouble to tune in and all who subsequently sent texts and emails to express your gratitude and pleasure at having been part of such a special event. For those of us who were able to be part of our Zoom Service, it was wonderful to feel close to each other again. In your many and various messages some of you said that you hadn't realised how isolated you had felt until the warm wave of St Mary's energy and love washed over you; some mentioned how surprised you felt at it feeling such an intimate and emotional experience, despite it happening over the internet; some not from our parish said that they too felt absorbed and welcomed into our fellowship; some said that they found themselves smiling throughout; others mentioned how profound they found the time when we all prayed together and how strong and significant that felt when we did so together; many of you mentioned how special the moment of communion was for you, allowing you to feel the closeness of God as well as the closeness of each other; many even asked if we could do it again sometime! The Resurrection was a transforming event for us as human beings who seek the presence of God in our lives. Easter Sunday, courtesy of Zoom, was also a transforming event for those of us who were able to take part, reminding us that this is what we are called to be and to offer to those who turn to our church and those who live in the communities we inhabit - a transforming experience, based on the presence and power of the Risen Lord. At the moment that finds expression in: * Our commitment to keeping in regular touch with each other by telephone, text or email. * Caring for each other by praying for each other and remembering those we see in church surrounded by the golden light and spiritual power of the Risen Lord. * Saying the Pandemic Prayer and the Lord's Prayer at least daily, knowing that others in the congregation will be doing so too. * Reserving 9.30am-10am each Sunday to lighting a candle, reading the Gospel, praying people into the presence of Christ and allowing ourselves to be filled anew with the strength of the Holy Spirt, as Christ seeks communion with us. It was a huge privilege and joy for me to feel able to come into your homes in such a special way on Sunday, to celebrate Communion with you and to give you each a Blessing. I was also hugely mindful of those who do not have computers or other devices which allowed them to take part, or indeed those who were just unable to do so. They too were in my thoughts and prayers. I think many of us are realising how important some things are which we may have taken for granted hitherto and perhaps all of us have recently been reminded of the warm and life giving place St Mary's, or the other churches to which we may belong, have in our lives. They transform our weaknesses into strength, our loneliness into a sense of togetherness and our isolation and fear into a sense of unity and hope. I hope we will all continue to value and draw strength from the friendships we have with each other, based on the friendship Christ seeks with each of us. May God continue to bless you and resource you with His Resurrection power and love. With all good wishes Jeff.