Letter from the Minister.
Rev Phil Summers
Prayerful followers of Jesus.
Happy Easter to you all! Although, what a strange Easter it is.
Firstly, I hope you are all staying safe, looking after one another and keeping your spirits up. I know Covid-19 has put us in a difficult situation but I’m always conscious of how privileged we are to have a strong community, an excellent, accessible health service and a culture of peace and mutual support. This is something to be treasured; it’s not the same across our world. Please remember in your prayers those in our world who do not have the same securities.
Talking of prayer, how are you doing? The practice of spending time with God is not always straightforward and although we feel it should be easy, it can be anything but. I’ve no idea how those early disciples approached their prayer life. In the days immediately after Jesus’ crucifixion, with rumours of missing bodies and visions of angels flying around, how did they settle themselves to find time to be with the parent God that Jesus had taught them about? Many would have been scared to visit a synagogue. After all, public opinion very quickly changes and there were those around who would have happily handed them over to the authorities. The followers of Jesus would fear the same punishment that he received. So, in the midst of their turmoil, in the genuine mix of hope and fear, they would have needed to find time to commune with God. In these prayers they would have begun to explore what it meant to have the risen Christ alongside them and for the Holy Spirit to lift, focus and inspire them. It couldn’t have been easy. It would have been slow and awkward. I imagine gaining a prayerful serenity was almost impossible, especially in those early days. But the truth of the matter was that Jesus was indeed with them and the Holy Spirit was filling them, strengthening them and healing them.
And our task is in line with theirs. In these days of confusion and fear we are working out what it means to be prayerful followers of Jesus. At the moment we can’t gather for worship. We have to rely on Aled Jones with Songs of Praise compilations. I point you toward prayers that have been written for us, we have stories and reflections, there is music and, as always, there is a great wealth of truth, half truth and falsehoods available to us on the internet. What do we do with it all? When we find ourselves separated from our community how do we ensure that we stay connected with our God. Maybe here we find the Easter hope; for each one of us is called to discover or re discover what is at the heart of our worshipping life. As those early disciples looked back on the life they had shared with Jesus they began to piece together what was central to their spiritual life. They soon found, as Jesus had taught, that love for neighbour goes hand in hand with love for God. How do we explore that in the way we live and the way we pray? Look back over your years of faith and find what is central to your own development. Find the music that inspires you, sing again the song you sang. If you can, go for those gentle country walks, or find those photos that you took but rarely look at, rejoice in family, friends and the joy of times gone by. Find silence, if that is your thing. Read scripture and hear God speak. The question for us is the one that faced those post resurrection followers of Jesus, ‘What is it that fuels your faith?’ Find that action, activity, prayer or song and live it. Jesus is alive in us and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Him. Now is the time to truly be church, alone together, without walls, in our community and alongside our neighbour. Maybe, just maybe, the Easter hope in these strange days will point us towards a new and more authentic way of being the body of Christ.
Love and blessings to you all.
Keep safe. Keep caring. Keep praying.