Pastoral Letter 3

PASTORAL LETTER 3                 10th May

Matthew 6: Jesus said "Look at the birds of the air: they do not sow or reap or store in barns: yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. So, do not worry. You cannot add a single hour to your life by worrying.

I'm so thankful for these fine days and for the opportunity to sit in the garden. This morning I've been listening to the birds singing cheerfully as if they've never heard of Corona Virus or lockdown! And it reminded me of St Francis of Assisi who, not only listened to the birds, but spoke to them and called them his brothers and sisters. This kinship was not confined to the birds but included the whole of the material world and universe. He called the sun his brother and the moon his sister and rejoiced and praised God for their warmth and light. St Francis shared an intimacy with the whole of creation even the things that were potentially harmful. It's worth remembering that although Corona Virus is devastating and tragically deadly for many people, it is not in itself evil. Corona Virus is a living thing seeking to do what all living things do and that is to multiply. It has turned our world upside down and has taken the earthly lives of so many but it is not our enemy and in itself means us no harm. It has to be stopped, of course, and, in the course of time, it will be stopped when a vaccine is developed. I'm sure that we're all praying that this will be sooner rather than later so that many people can be spared and families no longer torn apart and hearts broken by the virus.

Today, 8th May, we remember with thanksgiving, the end of the War in Europe and the vanquishing of the evil doctrine of the Nazis. This was a very different plague with evil at its core: a plague that sought to enslave and destroy others with deliberate and systematic intent. It is this intent that marks the difference between these two killers even though both have to be put down for the safety and security of all. We continue to give thanks for all the men and women who gave their all so that we might live in peace and freedom. Their sacrifice should never be forgotten for we owe them more than mere words could ever express.

And so we return to St Francis with his great love for the whole of creation and everything in it. He was frightened of nothing and no one because spiritually he was completely in tune with the world, including people, around him. This was, and still is, God's ultimate intention for each of us: to live in total harmony with the world in which we live and to have no fear of anything or anyone. St Francis, in order to bring Corona Virus under control, would probably have had a word with it! Jesus was the same when He ordered the storm to cease, leprosy to depart and even death to release its hold. Jesus and St Francis were so at one with God's creation and had such intimacy with our Creator God and Heavenly Father, that they could do this. In their earthly lives we catch a glimpse of what God's new creation will be like when the lion does literally lie down with the lamb!

Occasionally individuals are granted this spiritual maturity and can, and do, address nature directly but, for the majority of us, we must rely on, God given, medical science and research. Thousands of medical scientists are currently searching for a vaccine to both prevent and cure Corona Virus and I have no doubt that they will succeed. We can take great comfort and encouragement from this and thank God for the able and brilliant men and women who are working on our behalf. It is a reminder that God works in many different ways His wonders to perform. There will come a time, and I don't think that it will be that long, before we can celebrate Victory Day over Corona Virus!

In the meantime I'm sitting here in "splendid isolation" listening to the birds! And, despite all I've just said, I'm feeling vulnerable and a bit frightened. And so the words of Jesus come to me and tell me not to worry because I'm just as much in God's hands as the birds and that my song, believe it or not, can be just as sweet! I'm part of this wonderful and beautiful world around me, a world that God loves so much, and so are you. He has not forgotten or abandoned you and He never will. And even were I to succomb to the illness then I am still not abandoned: indeed, I move even closer to the very core and essence of His love. There is life for us both in this world and the world to come and nothing and no one can ever take this from us. It is part of our birthright.

And so I'll just close on a bird theme. Yesterday, on the video link prayer meeting, we were priviledged to see the baby Great Tits that have been born in Meryl's back garden. It was wonderful to see them with their beaks wide open to receive the food that both their mother and father were bringing them. They're less than a week old and so at this time they can neither see nor fly: their eyes are still shut and their wings not developed. But they do have an instinct for life and with open beaks receive the food that is given them. They trust that they are being looked after even though they can't see. I've never seen God but I know I'm loved and I know that God gives me good things. The same is true for you. Let's open our hearts to receive God's sustenance. I have a choice and so do you: I can sit there worrying or sit and hear God speaking through the bird song just like St Francis did. I choose the birds: I hope and pray that you do too.      Amen

Please remember to phone me if you need any help and, if I don't answer, then please leave a message and I'll get back to you. You're not forgotten and I'm here if you need me. Lots of love and prayers. Keep safe and keep well.

With every blessing from Peter

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