My dear friends,
How strange our world has become! As you will know, the road on which I live – Kingsway – is usually one of the busiest arterial roads in Europe. This morning, as I write this, it is about as busy as it is on Christmas Day. I have now been in personal ‘lockdown’ for about three weeks and it has been a revealing experience. I have certainly prayed more often, and I have been very thankful for the space living in a Rectory affords me. I have also been in contact far more often with family, friends and congregation. I suspect there are – as teachers have it – some key ‘learning points’ to be gleaned from this experience.
In this brief letter, I simply want to assure you that my colleagues and I are praying for you. Andrew and I, along with Mark Hewerdine, pray each morning together and we have established a practice of praying for five different congregation members each day. It is very moving to recall you each by name and hold your stories before God.
I also want to say that it’s okay to feel frustration or feel scared or depressed about what we are facing. None of us have ever faced anything quite like this before. By the time this is all over, we shall be sick to high-heaven of the word, ‘unprecedented’. However, I remain convinced – especially as we draw close to Easter Day – that God is good, generous and holy. In the midst of our trials, he calls us into new life.
As we draw close to Holy Week, I hope we can turn once again to the remarkable story of Jesus’ journey to the Cross and beyond to Resurrection. Of all communities in this nation, Christian ones are precisely those who have been given a story for these times: a story which passes from the promise of Palm Sunday, through to the depths of Good Friday and on to the true triumph of Easter Day. All our hope on God is founded, as the hymn goes. You bet! We are living through times which can feel like a Lent without end or the sealed-up darkness of Holy Saturday. Soon, though, soon and very soon, we shall meet our Easter Day and there shall be, such rejoicing!