Its a lovely day for a ramble!
Good afternoon everyone.
I am sorry I have been a little quiet this week, but you have probably enjoyed the space! I took the advice of our Bishop’s to draw breath after Holy Week and Easter, the way I would normally have done. They said at the time that we should look after ourselves as we would be in for the long haul, and how right they were.
The government have just announced that the lock down will go on for at least another three weeks. This message may bring a mixture of emotions, relief, contentment, anxiety, frustration, anger and with it more isolation and perhaps loneliness.
I just want to remind everyone of how well we have adapted so far, how effective the measures have been and how important it is to keep on doing what we are doing.
It is important to remember you are not really alone, if you need a chat then get in touch, if you need help ask, if you don’t know what to do then pray. Our Lord is always with us, in our loneliness and fear, as well as our joys He is with us in our homes, hospitals and on the streets, He will walk with us through the months ahead, always ready when we turn to Him.
Don’t be afraid, you are not alone and we can do this.
I have encountered a lot of grief and one of the common threads I have encountered is that in the midst of a life changing event, when someone is struggling to cope with the rawness of grief, they look outside and see life carrying on regardless.
I remember that very feeling when my Dad had died, I was a teenager and I went to the shop to pick up some shopping, struggling to put one foot in front of another, and everyone was chatting and going about normal life. I wanted to shout out, ‘Don’t you know what has happened, don’t you know who I have lost?’
This Good Friday, the streets are empty, we are all at home, it feels appropriate… because today the world should be remembering the day that we lost the most important man in our lives
I read this lovely reflection from Rev M Percy and thought you might appreciate it too.This is already a Holy Week like no other. Yet though we may be socially distant from one another. But we are not apart. We are bonded together in faith, hope and love. We are bonded together in an act of recollection and remembering, where we turn back to the Servant King – the One Who Reigns from the Tree – and who bids us not to be melancholy, or even nostalgic. But rather, to re-member this world of Christ’s, as God would put it back together. That is, knitted together in acts of charity, love, service and sacrifice. Christ, in you, is the touching place between our humanity and society, and God’s abundant grace and divinity. So remember this. Jesus loves us all enough to come close to us. So close, in fact, that he will wash away all the mess, dust and dirt with water, some cloths and a towel. He holds our feet. He holds you. You can’t wash someone’s feet at a distance; you have to touch them. Frankly, there is no social distance in this. And there is no social distance between anyone and Jesus. He has drawn near.
In this extraordinary and moving poem by John O’Donohue, he offers a sense of the right kind of hopeful remembering in Holy Week – not for what once was, but for what might and shall be, if we dare to live in hope:
This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
ll sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.
This was sent to me this morning and I thought you might like to see some words of wisdom.
Words of Wisdom
In this week’s New Statesman Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is the guest writer of the weekly “Diary” column. He dwells, not surprisingly, on the Coronavirus, and its effects on our society. He focuses on the experience of isolation and his words are worth sharing here;
” Given the degree and length of the isolation most of us will have to go through it seemed sensible to turn to one of the great experts in surviving isolation, the former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky. Sharansky was imprisoned in a gulag for 9 years between 1977 and 1986, half of it in solitary confinement……He had 5 pieces of advice for us. First, see yourself as part of the war, in this case against an invisible enemy; the struggle depends on you. Second, don’t depend on things that are not under your control – in this case, how long the pandemic will last. Focus on the things that depend on you – for instance, reading a book you have always wanted to read but could never find the time for. Third, never lose your sense of humour: Sharansky had great fun telling anti-Soviet jokes to his prison guards. Fourth, don’t give up on your hobbies. He spent much of his time playing games of Chess in his head. It kept is mind active and sharp. Fifth, feel a sense of connection. We Jews, he said, were scattered around the world yet we felt like one people. You can feel connected even if physically you are separated.”
More rambles from your Rector…
I know that I have mentioned a hands a couple of times this Lent, and it is perhaps the fact that we can’t just reach out and touch people, that has made me more aware of hands this Lent.
When we want to say thank you, we reach out, when someone is lonely we hold their hand, when someone is in pain we told their hand. Our hands have a whole language of their own, not only able to gesture and sign but they also tell the story of the life they have led, the scars, the callouses, the bitten nails the painted ones, the rings we wear, all tell a story. We have started day 15 of the lock down and yesterday as a group of us shared morning prayer over zoom, I listened to the reading of Jesus sharing the Passover meal. As he held the bread in his hands and pulled it apart, looking at those around the table, the image of his hands holding the bread really resonated with me.
As they shared the bread, and wine, as they sat alongside each other there must have been a shadow cast over the celebratory mood of feasting, surely there was that seed of doubt and suspicion, as they looked at one another, wondering who could possibly betray the one they loved.Who would turn their hand against Jesus….
I have just had a walk with my dogs in Dole Wood, the trees offered some shelter from the sharp wind, I had passed the farmer in the fields with the birds gracefully rising and falling behind the tractor, taking advantage of the disturbed soil and the treasures freshly unearthed, then as we ventured into the higher reaches we were presented with the dark glossy leavers and gentle blues of bluebells, spreading between the trees.
Sometimes we find things that we wouldn’t normally see, that we don’t know that we are missing. Our walks are the only regular times away from the house and so we have ventured further afield, relishing the extra time we have to just walk.
Heading across the field with the increasingly cold wind whipping around us, I gave thanks to God. Thanking Him for the beauty of creation, and also for providing a reason that I would be pleased to return to the home which has been feeling a little confining this last week.
Happy Sunday everyone.
God bless you and those you love.
29 March Mothering Sunday
Good morning, how strange it seems to have a Sunday without gathering together to worship, especially on a day like this when we should be sharing the joys of all it is to be in a family loved by God.
This morning a service was said in each of the churches in the Ness Group. We didn’t tell people because we did not want to risk people gathering, but each day morning prayers are said in the churches and on Sunday a communion service is said.
I do not want to get into a theological conversation about the validity of a communion with only the minister except that the minister isn’t alone because as the words of the Eucharistic prayer says;
The Lord is here
His sprit is with us.
We thought it would be a comfort to those of you who would normally share bread and wine in a service on Sunday, that in churches there was bread broken and wine poured, with prayers said for us all.
Here is a short thought for this Mothering Sunday.
Today many of us will not be celebrating Mothering Sunday in the way we were expecting, we may have parents who are needing to self-isolate, we may have lost parents in the last year, we may be geographically isolated because of disrupted travel plans and restrictions.
This means that this Sunday is perhaps more poignant and less celebratory than normal and perhaps that fits more with the Gospel reading than a more usual Mothering Sunday, because we are certainly in unusual times.
Standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
Other Readings: 1 Sam 1:20-28; Ps 34:11-20; Col 3:12-17
This isn’t a reading that you would normally associate with Mothering Sunday, but actually in these times of change and the unknown we need reminding that to care, to nurture and to mother is an ability that we all hold.
Here is Jesus, very close to his last minute alive on earth, actually on the cross, thinking of his mother and making arrangements for her to be cared for when he is gone, by asking his best friend John to look after her. So here is Jesus, being motherly.
A fitting reading as it is also a reminder that we are in Lent and moving closer and closer to Holy Week and Good Friday, although how we will truly manage that in these times of separation remains to be seen, it will be a challenge certainly.
A challenge that we can rise too if we do as Paul says in the Colossians reading of the day,
‘Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.’
How apt are those words in the world today, although for most of us socially isolating ourselves is only just becoming real as the café’s restaurants and other social places are now closing, in a world where we can no longer go to church to celebrate the love of God that is demonstrated through the love we share with each other, where actually meeting each other in the street has us estimating how close we are standing physically.
Today we all have a chance to nurture others, although perhaps not in the usual ways, but perhaps our usual ways needed a rethink.
We are of course thankful for the love we have shared with our families, in whatever for they may take. But today as we think of the love Jesus showed for his mother in those last moments, let us think about how we can demonstrate to our communities the love God has for each of us.
Not sure what you can do?
If you know someone is alone, give them a call and talk…
If someone is worried or frightened, get in touch and comfort them…
If someone is hungry, help them get food…
If someone is angry, give them space , you do not know what they are dealing with…
Show someone you care today, and then keep doing it, because a loving community can only grow stronger.
I will leave you with the prayer for today
God of love,
passionate and strong,
tender and careful:
watch over us and hold us
all the days of our life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Good morning everyone
We are at the start of Day 5 in lockdown and I wonder how life is feeling? Haven’t we been blessed with the weather? It has been lovely seeing people enjoy the sunshine and having the opportunity to get out into the garden.
I wonder how you are doing at home, perhaps you have been used to being alone and this is just more of the same, or perhaps you are someone who is home alone and really struggling.
Perhaps you have the opposite problem, you are home with your family all the time and are struggling with the lack of space and calm.
There are difficulties to face in what ever situation you find yourself in.I haven’t got the answers, we all have to find ways of dealing with our difficulties, there are four of us at home and we have divided up the chores and have some group rules, we put these in place before we needed them so that we could have a calm constructive meeting about it.
I am trying to develop a routine with varying levels of success partly because I am struggling to settle in to being at home all the time…But I have a good routine of prayer and reading as well as other stuff to stop me sitting in front of my laptop all the time.
I miss seeing you all, I miss our chats and the services, but I think of you in my prayers.
Love to you all and have a great Day 5
Tuesday 24th March
Good afternoon, I know that in view of yesterdays announcement many of us may be struggling to get to grips with how our lives will be. How we manage being confined to home except for necessities.
In the midst of all this we need to remember that some things will continue, we will see babies born, we will lose people we love, and not necessarily through the virus, birthdays will happen, dogs need walking and children will play.
Despite being confined to our homes we are in an age when we are more connected than we have ever been. Prayers are said every day in our parishes, and in the lovely place in which we live we can see the wonder of our creator God as the spring gather speeds and as our lives become more and more confined spring is just becoming more and more exuberant.
None of you are alone, we have the steadfast love of our Lord to sustain us, and on a more practical level, there are people in each of our villages that can help with deliveries, and if you are feeling isolated, alone or just finding things hard then please get in touch.
As more and more measures come into place as the numbers of those infected grows, please take a moment to pray for those who are working in the health sector.
give skill, sympathy and resilience
to all who are caring for the sick,
and your wisdom to those searching for a cure.
Strengthen them with your Spirit,
that through their work many will be restored to health;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
As we think of people who may be isolated and afraid, please take a moment to pray for them
God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Perhaps even if you are not normally a person who prays you might like to use this prayer.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour,
and to care for those in need
as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength
to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick,
and to assure the isolated
of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake.
If you are reading this and need to speak to someone, if you are frightened or alone, please ring me on 01778 703093 and I or someone from the church will be in touch.
Rev Carolyn Bailey, Rector of the Ness Group