Dear Parish Friends
In the Easter season, our weekly readings include passages from the book of Acts. The stories of the early church tell of a spirit-driven people, sharing with confidence their experiences of the risen Christ, and “day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). It was not always straightforward though; we hear many tales of disagreements, and power struggles over how and to whom the gospel should be preached. But throughout all this we see a message of the relentless nature of God’s love. It could not and cannot be destroyed.
Next Sunday’s reading tells of the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:55-60), which was a turning point for the church. The persecution of the early Christians that this unleashed drove them being scattered widely to non-Jewish areas for the first time, and led to a period of great growth. The suffering was clearly not a good thing, but God used this negative situation as an opportunity to bring about positive change. Stephen, in the face of darkness, had the confidence to trust in God’s faithfulness. “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” he says, despite the inevitable response of his accusers. He was sustained by his belief in the victory of Jesus on the cross.
In the current COVID-19 situation, we need to remember that God’s love cannot be destroyed by whatever the world produces, good or bad, and be upheld in that knowledge. We also need to see how God might work through this to good effect. One of the great blessings of our Zoom services has been that some housebound parishioners have been able to join in worship with our community for the first time in years. Evening prayer has been said by more than just the priest and one other. We need to ask ourselves, when we are able once again to meet in person, will we go back to how we were, or will we be willing and able to explore new ways of being Christ’s community in Ekibin?
There will be an opportunity to discuss some of these questions at the ‘Faith and Worship 365’ meeting this coming Sunday (11am at the usual Zoom address). All are welcome to join. If you have any specific question you would like to discuss please let me know it in advance.
The next edition of ‘Church News’ will be produced for the beginning of June. Perhaps you would like to contribute a short piece about the challenges and blessings of living through the current ‘physical distancing’ regime.
Today (6th May), as I write this, is the feast day of St John the Evangelist, so a prayer that too echoes these reflections on how we can continue our walk with God in these times:
cast your bright beams of light upon the Church:
that, being enlightened by the teaching
of your blessed apostle and evangelist Saint John,
we may so walk in the light of your truth
that we may at last attain to the light of everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ your incarnate Son our Lord.
With blessings for the week ahead.
Yours in Christ