Friday 20th March 2020
Hope is one of those gifts from God that comes to us at the most difficult of times.
Hope is a word that I’m sure many of us have often used lightly in the past. “I hope the weather will be good tomorrow” or “I hope Don hasn’t eaten all the chocolate biscuits!” But, as we know, hope is so much more, so much deeper, and so much more important. So important indeed that throughout Lent we prepare to celebrate and give thanks to God for the hope that comes to us in the risen Christ. Hope may seem difficult for us to feel at the moment. There are so many changes to our lives, to our world; there are so many questions doing circles through our minds. We all feel it, I certainly do.
And yet, most if not all of us have faced similar moments in our lives. Not in the same way or all at the same time as we are now but times when we’ve not been sure what’s going to happen and been worried and perhaps have even lost hope for a while. And yet, on so many of those occasions, when we’ve looked back, perhaps we’ve recognised God’s presence and strength and even peace with us in a way that at the time we didn’t, we couldn’t.
I truly believe that just as God has been in the past God is with us now, in this time, offering us those same gifts of strength, peace and above all hope. I would echo the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury when he wrote recently that hope is not just a gift we receive from God but a gift to be shared with others.
As time passes I am sure we will discover new ways of being church, one key aspect of which will be how we support one another in those simple acts of love, a phone call, an email, an offer of help to one another and to our neighbours if that is possible, and above all in prayer. We may be physically separated but we are united in faith as the Body of Christ both here and throughout the world. Together that is a powerful force of prayer and source of hope for ourselves and others. There is much to do and for this reason I will be postponing my planned sabbatical to a later date.
Over the coming weeks we will be emailing (and for those not on email posting) resources for worshipping at home. If you have internet access please have a look at the various denominations’ websites, especially of the websites methodist.org.uk/worship-during-coronavirus and devotions.urc.org.uk both of which have daily worship as well as access to streamed services. I will also be posting weekly my own reflection and prayers on the Christ Church Barnstaple website at christ-church-barnstaple.org.uk
Please keep in touch with me and with each other. We are in this together, and together with the God who loves us more than we can ever know or understand we will get through it. More than that I pray we will emerge into the light with our faith, hope and love strengthened.
Your brother and friend,