Pastoral Letter 1

PASTORAL LETTER                                  26th April 2020

“If a grain of wheat dies: it bears much fruit”

Dear All,

I hope and pray that wherever you are, you’re keeping yourself safe and sound by following the advice to stay in your homes as much as possible apart from exercise and occasional visits to the shop. I know that it all feels strange and unnatural which, of course, it is, but it is the only way at present of protecting ourselves and others. It must be especially difficult for those living alone and not being able to go near their loved ones and close friends. There is no easy answer to this but it is good to know that we’re not forgotten which is why I, for my part, have been phoning everyone from time to time. I hope it does help and that hearing my dulcet tones from time to time isn’t too hard to bear! I also hope that I’m contacting everyone but if you know of anyone who could do with a call or needs anything specifically then please do let me know and I will do my best to help. I am here if you need me and my car still has enough petrol to get me from here to you. I don’t want any of you to feel that you’re on a desert island! I want also to thank Meryl for the sterling effort she is making to make sure that we all feel connected and to those who are delivering cards and information. Thank you to you all. 

I’ve found the good weather a big help recently and am very glad of our garden to sit in and relax. There’s something very soothing about feeling the warmth of the sun and taking in the beauty of flowers and the sound of the birds. Christine loves the garden and has been doing a lot of germinating and planting seeds. All being well we should have a good crop of French beans, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, potatoes and courgettes! Even the apple tree and clematis that produced nothing last year are now in full blossom and flower. We all need green and open space which is why I feel very sad for those with no garden and why it is so important that parks and public spaces remain open. We all need escapes of some kind.

Gardens are important and frequently mentioned in The Bible. It was in The Garden of Eden that human beings first ate of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil and consequently sin: death, disease and destruction entered our world. We are still, as is very evident at the moment, picking up the fallen pieces of that fruit. It was in The Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus prayed fervently that God’s will would be done as He approached His death on The Cross. And it was in the Garden near the empty tomb that Mary met the risen and living Jesus following His glorious resurrection from the dead. She even mistook Him for the gardener! The problem began in a garden and it was concluded and answered in a garden. Gardens are indeed special places!

And gardeners and farmers are special people because they both live and work by faith. They plant a tiny seed, that shows no sign of life, into the ground, in the hope that the seed will germinate, and the crop will grow. They have no certainty but live by faith and in hope. And there is a good lesson here, for those of us who are going through this difficult and testing time. None of us like waiting for waiting and patience do not come naturally to most of us whether it’s waiting for the crops to grow or waiting for this lockdown to end and a vaccine to be created. It feels endless and in truth it may take quite a long time but we do know that it won’t last forever and that one day the all-clear will be sounded. We live by faith and we live in hope and the Bible assures us that those who wait expectantly will not be disappointed. Our clematis and our apple tree produced nothing last year and it was so tempting to give up on them and uproot them or tear them down but, this year, seeing a riot of colour, I’m so glad that we didn’t! 

Some of the seeds that Christine planted were bean seeds that she had kept from last year. They were ugly and misshapen little things that so easily could have been discarded. It was difficult to believe that any life could have come from them and yet these were the ones that broke through the soil first and will hopefully give us an abundant crop. The dilemma and pain of sin began in a garden but the answer to sin was revealed in a garden when Jesus rose from the dead. He was placed in the tomb like one of those misshapen bean seeds but emerged glorious and victorious. 

And so please don’t lose heart and never give up hope. There is no sin, no destruction, no virus or no death that can ever separate us from God’s presence and God’s love. The road may be long and the tunnel dark but it has a turning and one day we shall be bathed in light! 

I will be sending out another letter next week and so God Bless you all: keep safe, keep well and stay hopeful.

 

Every Blessing from Peter


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