Thought for the Day by Rev Pat

Sunday 31st May 2020 Pentecost Sunday

We are still amid a global health crisis where we are at war against an invisible rampaging enemy. People may well be asking is there any light by which we can navigate this stark terrain?  The answer is YES, for although Fear and Sickness walk hand in hand and the night sky appears totally black, as I look more closely I realise it is full of tiny pinpricks of light and the more I gaze upon those pinpricks, the bigger they seem to be and to my amazement the very darkness is transformed before me.

Pinpricks of light, are the presence of Jesus in us; A friend said to me … ‘In myself today I’ve been rather fraught and agitated, drifting, unfocused, unwell, yet He is here.  Here in the kindness of strangers offering to take my dog for a walk; here in the actions of a neighbour checking if I need anything from the shops; here in the freshness of the summer sun shining in childlike playfulness around me as I peg out my washing. As a gentle breeze tossed the clothes on my line and performed its merry invisible dance between the tea towels and blouses, I thought of the wind of the Spirit, blowing where it will, invisible yet almighty, full of God’s creative power and beauty.  I may at times feel vexed and unsettled, irritable and even far away from God, yet those pinpricks of light are always there for me to find, for surely, He is always with me.’

I may feel stark and unproductive compared to so many who are on the front line and working their utmost to help those in need, yet as I stand at my window and add my applause to the millions of others around the nation, God hears and celebrates with me from Heaven, His joy filling the sky.  He the One who is utterly selfless, is bursting with delight over those made in and living out His image in selfless care of those in need. He loves us and can fill our heart with the truths of His faithfulness and kindness so how better to see that but in the lives of those giving themselves so unstintingly?

Will I honour those He honours and so open my heart to His radiant joy and peace?  Or shutter up my heart in judgement and anger and find I can see only the dark? How might I navigate the strangeness of this day and the strangeness of my unsettled heart?  He is with me and never abandons me.  ‘If I go down to the depths He is there, speaking kindness and peace deep within’.  My dogs pressing close into my side, still loving me even though I can’t take them for long walks.  But in the gentle lick of forgiveness and loving pressure against my legs, my eyes are opened to God’s unconditional love and my darkness turns to light. Thank You Jesus.  You are the light and the darkness has not understood.  But in your light, I see light.

May God Bless you all this coming week.

With my Love and Prayers

Rev Pat

Sunday 24th May 2020

I can hear almost hear some of you saying, “Ok, enough now, let’s get back to how life was before the lockdown!”  I have deliberately not been counting how many days of the enforced lockdown it has been with no immediate end in sight. It’s become tedious for some, a season of quiet and reflection for others but for some, it’s also been a financially challenging time.

Media, politicians, and conspiracy theorists world-wide convey many messages, often conflicting and confusing. How do we make sense of this all? I believe that it is fair to say that there’s nothing you or I can do to solve the problem of the virus itself. There are eminent doctors and scientists across the globe, working hard to find a vaccine.

What we can do is remain rooted in Jesus, to maintain our spiritual disciplines and draw our strength from Him. In close companionship with Jesus, we will know His peace, His presence, and His provision. We will too draw on His wisdom and discernment which helps us navigate the road we must walk in this season. We can also be sensitive and aware of others who may be struggling at this time. I believe that we are called to show love and compassion to those in need. May we be a tangible extension of Jesus, working in us and through us, touching lives.

Please be reminded that if you have a need, please feel free to contact me, one of the stewards or your pastoral visitor.

If I were asked to choose a COVID-19 Scripture for you to meditate on it would be this:  Isaiah 41:10:

 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

When you awake every new day remember:

Jesus said to His Father: I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. John 17: 9-11

Take Care and stay safe. As always – With my Love and Prayers
Rev Pat

Sunday 17th May 2020

I don’t know about you, but I would love to turn on the TV or pick up a Newspaper and read some ‘Good News.’ Day after day our media seems to bombard us with news about war, unrest, Covid19 and sadness.

I recently came across theses two articles in a book called ‘The Way of Peace’   (A collection of prayers and meditations from around the world from those who love peace) compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild.

Painting Peace
I had a paint box
But it didn’t have the colour red
For the blood of the wounded
Nor white for the hearts and faces of the dead.
It didn’t have yellow either
For the burning sands of the desert.
Instead it had orange  For dawn and for sunset
And blue for new skies And pink for the dreams of young people.
I sat down and I painted peace.
(Ten year old, from Latin America) 

 The Shadow of the Dove
When dawn’s ribbon of glory around the world returns
And the earth emerges from sleep – May the shadow of the dove be seen
As she flies across moor and city. Over the warm earth as she skims,
Her shadow falling on the watcher in the tower, The refugee in the ditch, the weary soldier at the gate.
May the shadow of hope  Be cast across the bars of a hostage cell
Filling with momentary light rooms tense with conflict, Bringing a brief respite, A slither of gold across the dark.
May she fly untiring across flooded fields, Across a city divided by hate and fear,
Across a town wreathed in smoke.
May the shadow of reconciliation, The dove of peace with healing in her wings,
Be felt and seen and turned towards As she makes righteousness shine like the dawn,
The justice of her cause like the noonday sun.
Holy Spirit of love Bring healing, bring peace.
(
Kate McIlhagga)

Jesus said “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid”

In the days ahead as we all continue in this time of uncertainties, may you all know the colours and the love and the deep inner peace of the Lord Jesus surrounding you.
May God bless you and those who you love.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you want to talk.
With my love and prayers.

Rev Pat

Sunday 10 May

Another Lockdown week is nearly behind us! There is speculation that the next stage will see some people returning to work, yet many will remain at home, experiencing a variety of challenges, especially about income and sustainability.

I’ve tried to stay away from the many conspiracy theories doing the rounds at the moment as well as the narratives being put into the public domain by both anti-lockdown and pro-lockdown advocates.  You may think that there is an element of ‘heavy-handedness’, perhaps over-reaction, some illogical decisions and regulations exercised by Government during this lockdown, but, I do believe that they have attempted to act in the interests of our entire country, with high infection and death rates, a cost too big to bear and carry. I personally do not agree with everything that the Government has done, but believe that I need to respect their authority and this is underpinned by many Scriptures, such as 1 Peter 2: 18-20

Let us therefore follow the regulations that are in place and do what we can to mitigate the impact for both our businesses and our personal lives. Here again, if there is anything that I can do to assist you, do please contact me.

I am grateful to all our pastoral workers and stewards who I know are praying for you and making regular contact with you.

Maybe you feel a mix of emotions?  Joy that we are finally over the peak of the virus; grief at the terrible death toll and maybe personal grief too for some of you? Stress as many have lost jobs or income and although some things may start to return to normal, others will take a long time. So amidst all the uncertainties what is God saying to us?
This verse from Luke 12 v 32 spoke to me: ‘Do not be afraid little flock’.  Jesus said this while talking to his friends about their concerns which were distracting them from hearing all He wanted to tell them. Using that phrase ‘little flock’ he emphasised to them and to us that we are cared for, watched over and supremely valuable in His eyes.

Do you know that tender loving care of your good shepherd, Jesus?  He is with you, longing to lift the burdens from your heart and give you His peace and hope for the future. Keep your eyes on Him and all will be well.

Stay safe, be blessed … With my ongoing love and prayers

Rev Pat

Sunday 3 May

The New York Transit Company was missing a bus and a driver some years ago. For over a week, authorities searched for the man but could not find him. Finally, ten days later, he was found, together with his bus, in Miami, Florida! The driver said, “I just had it with the cold weather, the passengers, and my family! One day after I got off work, I thought, ‘I WONDER WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I JUST TOOK OFF FROM DRIVING!’” So, that is what he did! He took off for Florida where he enjoyed the sun and surf for over a week, all by himself!

Have you ever felt like that? Life can really beat you up sometimes. You are not sure where the blows are coming from, but they really hurt, and you are not sure if you can keep going. You know that you must keep going but you feel that you can’t!

Have you ever found yourself saying “I just don’t know how much more of this I can take?” Haven’t we all felt like that bus driver at times? We get so frustrated and/or aggravated about life that we either want to pull our hair out or run away! There are many things that can get us frustrated and down, feeling we have come to the end of our tether and just can’t take another step of faith.

There was a time when the apostle Paul felt that way. In 2 Corinthians 4:1–15 Paul shares with us some of the things that kept him going – that kept him from losing heart and giving up. Things that we too can employ when we lose heart and feel like giving up in these strange days.

Despite her handicaps, Helen Keller was grateful; she said “For three things I thank God every day of my life; …thanks that He has [given me] knowledge of His works; deep thanks that He has set in my darkness the lamp of faith; deep deepest thanks that I have another life to look forward to – a life joyous with light and flowers and heavenly song.”

We as believers must keep our eyes upon the author and finisher of our faith! He has not saved us to quit! He did not die on the cross for us to give up! He did not rise again for us to become discouraged! He did not ascend to the Father, interceding on our behalf for us to lose hope!  We can keep going when we feel we can’t go on if we stay focused upon the Lord Jesus, and on the prize that is set before us!

In the middle of World War II, Oxford University asked our Prime Minister Winston Churchill to speak at their annual graduation ceremony. Dressed in his finest suit, he arrived at the auditorium. The crowd gave him a standing ovation. Looking very dignified, he asked everyone to be seated. Then he removed his cigar and placed his top hat on the podium, gazed at his waiting audience that included some of the most noted scholars in the world. With an authoritative tone in his voice he said: “Never give up!” Never, NEVER give up!¨ Then he reached for his hat, put his cigar back in his mouth, steadied himself with his cane and walked out of the auditorium. The speech was over. It was a short message. But it was powerful. It was a message that needed to be heard then.

It is message that needs to be heard now. Never give up! Remember difficult roads can lead to beautiful things.

Stay safe and well. You are in my prayers.                                                                                                    

With my love and blessings

Rev Pat

Sunday 26 April

I wonder if any of you are asking “Has anything changed since I wrote last week’s ‘Pause for Thought?’ I think it may be easier to answer that question with a negative response. But I remember my Dad told me – when he was well into his nineties – his first thought when he opened his eyes each morning was “Thank God I’m still alive!”

With the daily news that so many folk have died from the Coronavirus (COVID 19) we do indeed have much to thank God for. We may not understand what is happening and why; and its okay to criticise the shortfalls and decisions of those in positions of power and decision making; as well as being thankful for the small things that give us pleasure.

David Lewis reminded me of St. Pauls reference to a mirror in 1 Cor 13:12 where he says: “Now we see but a poor reflection, then we shall see face to face.” David goes on to reflect that it all feels very strange just now. As we are denied it, we appreciate the value of real social contact, as opposed to virtual contact. We see only a poor reflection. It’s great to connect on social media, even to pray, but it’s only life in the mirror. We long to see each other “face to face”  Paul describes our current life as life in the mirror. But, he says, there is greater transformation still to come! God has prepared and fashioned something much greater and more glorious for us than what we have now. And he made it possible through the Cross and Resurrection. May the Lord instill in us the quiet confidence of hope in the joy of his resurrection. Amen.

As I write to you this week, I am grateful for many things that I often take for granted, the sunshine, my garden, the birdsong, my dogs, my family and friends. I am grateful for your telephone calls and concern for me. It is my joy and privilege to serve you as your minister. We may not be able to meet face to face, just yet, but by the grace of God and his unconditional love for each one of us we will be able to celebrate his faithfulness together again. May we all remember who is in control and how much he loves us.

Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us that: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

My prayer for you is that you will know the love and peace of our Risen Saviour holding you in the coming days which we may not understand

Stay safe and well and please contact me if you want to talk.

With my love and prayers

Rev Pat

Sunday 18 April

We are a week on from Easter Sunday when we proclaimed the amazing news that ‘Christ is Risen’. In the strange days in which we are living now our celebration has been very different to how as Christians we would normally celebrate Easter.

This week I have included David Lewis’s thoughts which he shared with me and I now pass onto you. He writes:

James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you”

‘Whilst the message from government is “stay away” God’s message is “Draw near”
We’ve often coveted the control of our lives. Control that, in God’s providence, is now slipping through our fingers. A tiny particle of a virus brings our towers of babel in which we mistakenly trust crashing down…

Maybe this is not the time for triumphalist language about “beating viruses”, but time for appropriate humility; a time to “draw near to God” and be thankful that He is in control.
One day these events will become history. Life will accelerate again. Will we forget?                    Or will we remember what God has taught us in these times?’

 

My own thoughts are that while I have found it difficult to ‘stay away’ I have greatly appreciated the uninterrupted times to be able to ‘draw near to God’. This past week I had planned spend time at my holiday caravan in Cardigan Bay at Mwnt in Wales where I could relax and spend time with the amazing view of Mwnt from my decking. But instead I have spent time talking to lots of you on the telephone, working in the garden enjoying the sun and the birdsong and walking my dogs. In all these things I have felt near to God and near to you all. As I have prayed for you, I have asked that you would know the peace and love of our Risen Saviour surrounding you. These times of isolation will pass and many of us will have changed. But one thing is for certain God’s care and love for us is the same. The sun will shine into our lives again because of the never-failing love of Jesus God’s Son.

In the days ahead appreciate each minute of every day and give thanks to our Risen Lord as we drawn near to his Father and ours. Stay safe and well. Please contact me if you want to chat.

Easter Sunday

On the third day, Sunday, women came to the tomb, but Jesus was not there, and then he appeared to people over the next few weeks. Easter, constantly doubted, forever yearned for, the vortex of our faith.

Easter, as happily familiar as flowers in Spring or birthday parties growing up – and that very familiarity tricks us into missing the utterly unexpected shock of resurrection. Dead people stayed dead – until Jesus was raised. Nothing automatic here, no silly sentiments about the memory of someone living on.

Nature itself was happily subverted; the dreaded enemy, death itself, toppled.

But Easter isn’t primarily about us. God raised Jesus – and ours is to praise you and extol the wonder of Jesus. How great thou art. God is incomparably wonderful, powerful, and tender. Yes, benefits come to us because of Jesus’ resurrection – elusive glories like forgiveness and hope. But on Easter, we want to stop, and simply be awestruck at the grandeur of grace that is the heart of God – and like the first witnesses to Easter, we ask the risen Lord what tasks we might fulfil in the wake of it all.

Holy Saturday

We can ponder Hans Holbein’s painting of Jesus lying in the tomb. But can we fathom the sorrow, the guilt, doubts, disappointment and fear those who knew and loved Jesus felt between his burial on Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday?

God could have raised him immediately. But God waited. And we wait. We have all found ourselves in the throes of some numb day, our own Holy Saturday.

We’ve endured Good Friday, the losses – but there’s no new life yet.

“Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31). “I wait for the Lord, more than watchmen for the morning” (Psalm 130:5). Saturday was, for them, the Sabbath, a day of rest. Jesus rested in the tomb; God rested in heaven. And so, with the disciples, and Jesus’ mother, we wait this day, and every day, trusting the God we cannot see, resting in the hope that Easter really is coming.

Good Friday

What time is it? All day, this Good Friday, keep an eye on the clock. Earlier this morning, at 6am, Jesus faced a mock trial, was treated cruelly, yet took it all peacefully. By 9am, Jesus’ wrists and ankles were gashed and shattered by iron nails, the cross slammed into the ground; the snide snickering of onlookers began. At noon the sky grew eerily dark; then at 3pm Jesus breathed his last.

We ponder that old hymn, “What wondrous love is this?” Julian of Norwich offered this moving thought: “The love which made him suffer surpasses all his sufferings, as much as heaven is above the earth.” Today we read and reflect on the profound words of the prophet Isaiah: He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Surely he has borne our grief, and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, with his stripes we are healed. He was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth, like a lamb led to the slaughter; they made his grave with the wicked, although he had done no violence (Isaiah 53).

Without the holy, divine love, without God’s eternal plan to use this day to bridge the chasm between heaven and earth, without God’s merciful determination to share in our sufferings and redeem us, this Friday would be relegated to the history books, perhaps with a sad title like Dark Friday, or Tragic Friday. But we dare to call it “Good Friday.”

In the throes of death, Jesus cried out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Doesn’t this leave us space to cry out in the darkness when we seem forsaken by God? God did not remain safely aloof in heaven, but God entered into human suffering at its darkest. Just as Jesus stretched out his arms on the cross, so God envelops us in a love that even death could not defeat.

Be still, and quiet, as much as you can this day. Ponder the suffering and love embodied in the Cross.

Maundy Thursday

“Maundy” is derived from the same ancient root as our word “mandate.” Jesus issued a mandate: “Do this in remembrance of me.” Today, we do.

So many of Jesus’ meals were memorable! Pious people complained that he “ate with sinners” (Luke 15:2). As a dinner guest, he let a questionable woman wash his feet (Luke 7:36), and another anoint him with oil (Mark 14:1). He suggested that when you have a dinner party, don’t invite those who can invite you back, but urge the poor, blind, maimed and lame to eat with you (Luke 14:14).

His most memorable meal though was his last. For the Jews, it was Passover, the most sacred of days when they celebrated God’s powerful deliverance of Israel from Egypt; the menu of lamb, unleavened bread, and drinking wine symbolized their dramatic salvation.

Jesus must have struck the disciples as oddly sombre on such a festive night. He washed their feet, then spoke gloomily about his imminent suffering. As he broke a piece of bread, he saw in it a palpable symbol of what would happen to his own body soon; staring into the cup of red wine, he caught a glimpse of his own blood being shed. We still use the words Jesus spoke on that Thursday when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper now.

After an awkward, poignant conversation with his friends, Jesus walked out of the walled city of Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives to pray in the garden called Gethsemane. Kneeling in anguish, Jesus prayed “Not my will, but Your will be done.” But no slight hint of fatalism was in his heart; Jesus’ mood wasn’t resignation: he actively and courageously sought and embraced God’s will, which isn’t some dark luck, but is when we with trusting faith go where God leads us, no matter the cost.

Jesus mercifully bore Judas’s betrayal, then was arrested. During the night, charges were trumped up, witnesses were compelled to lie. The proceedings were highly irregular… Who was responsible for Jesus’ death? The Jews? The Romans? You and me? The Jews handed him over to the Romans, the Romans handed him back to the Jews, the disciples handed him over. No one wanted to be responsible, and so they (and we!) are all guilty.

Ultimately, God was responsible for this riveting, revolutionary enactment of divine love and holy determination to be one with us, and to save us. Through that dark Thursday night in detention, Jesus was abused, mistreated, his destiny sealed. Holy Thursday waited all night for the chilly dawn of the day with the paradoxical name: Good Friday.

Holy Wednesday 8 April

Wednesday of Jesus’ last week. Frankly, we have no idea what happened that day, besides the usual sunrise, meals, maybe chores, rest, casual conversation.

It’s often that way, isn’t it? – the day before the most important day in your life, the dark day that proved to be an unexpected plot twist in your journey, you weren’t doing anything in particular.

Somehow I like the idea that, during a week of intense activity for Jesus, we have a blank day, on which nothing earth-shaking took place. Did Jesus simply chill with his friends in Bethany? Did he teach someplace, or heal someone, but nobody wrote it down? Did he visit two or three people privately? Surely a public person like Jesus had private relationships, perhaps with someone like Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea – or maybe he took a long walk with Peter, Mary or John. Could it be he simply withdrew from people and activity and prayed? Quite often the Gospels tell us “Jesus withdrew to a lonely place to pray” (Luke 5:16, Matthew 14:23); if this was his habit, his sustenance, his greatest delight, wouldn’t he have done so during Holy Week?

I also like the idea that Jesus is bigger than what we know. John’s Gospel ends by saying “There are many other things which Jesus did.” We hope so, and we even experience this ourselves, for the fruit of Holy Week is a crucified and risen Saviour, who is active today, not only continuing his ancient work, but doing new things.

Prayer: “Lord, sometimes I associate you only with the weighty days. I forget you know the normal, seemingly dull days too. I assume that on Wednesday you were on intimate terms with God. I pray that this could become my own habit of mind and heart. Be near me, Lord Jesus, at work, driving, cleaning, reading, conversing, eating, waking and sleeping, even on a Wednesday, mid-week.”

 

Holy Tuesday 7 April

Jesus was relentless, fearless, clearly on a mission from God, ready to lose anything to attain everything. After the drama of Palm Sunday and the ruckus of Jesus’ Monday morning rampage through the temple, Jesus probably should have stayed home in Bethany, or fled during the night to safety in the north where he’d come from. But instead, Jesus walked right back into the temple to face shocked, mortified, angry clergy and laity, and began talking – at length. He didn’t win any friends by foretelling a day when not one stone of the temple would be left upon another. The crowd had to laugh: Herod’s masons had built a seemingly indestructible temple, with flawlessly cut, massive blocks, the largest measuring 44 feet long, 10 feet high, 16 feet wide, weighing 570 tons. His words seemed ridiculous – but still caused offence.

He was only getting started that Tuesday. Matthew shares 212 verses of Jesus talking (chapters 22-25), including some of his most famous teachings. And don’t his words carry a much heavier freight since we know he was in the final couple of days before his death? That Tuesday, he exposed the faked religiosity of the pious Pharisees, he wept over the Holy City which had lost its way, he warned the disciples of the perils of living into the Truth. Jesus clarified that our salvation depends on whether we feed the hungry and welcome the unwanted. Devious men tried to trick Jesus with a question about a woman with several husbands: to whom would she be married in heaven? For Jesus, the glory of hope is too large, too wonderful to be shrunk to earthly proportions, or limited by the way we do business down here.

Can you picture him moving about within the temple precincts, stopping under a portico, then strolling down the large stone staircase, standing for a while near the gate, probing, questioning, listening and yet ruminating at length.

Take some time on this Holy Tuesday to read Jesus’ words from his Holy Tuesday: Matthew 21:23-25:40.

Prayer: “Lord, we are so grateful that on your final Tuesday you had so much to say. We need to hear and heed your thinking – although your Tuesday words are hard. We might prefer easy platitudes or simplistic spiritual niceties – but in truth we are eager to hear and embrace your deeper, riskier, more satisfying truth. I will make time to read your words, and to ponder them, even when they expose the triviality of my faith, and my lacklustre half-attempts at following you.”

Holy Monday 6 April

Monday morning. Jesus walked two miles from Bethany into Jerusalem, a daunting, steep, rocky road. Even rockier was the reception he got from the religious leaders: he waltzed right into the temple, and in a rage that startled onlookers, drove the money changers out of the temple.

Was he issuing a dramatic memo against Church fundraisers? Hardly. He was acting out, symbolically, God’s judgment on the temple. The well-heeled priests,

Annas and Caiaphas, had sold out to the Romans. Herod had expanded the temple into one of the wonders of the world – but he pledged his allegiance to Rome by placing a large golden eagle, symbol of Roman power, over its gate. The people were no better: a superficial religiosity masqueraded as the real thing. Within a generation of Jesus’ Holy Monday, that seemingly indestructible temple was nothing but rubble.

Jesus was not the first to denounce the showy façade of a faked religiosity among God’s people. Through the centuries, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Micah, and John the Baptist had spoken God’s words of warning to people whose spiritual lives were nothing more than going through the motions, assuming God would bless and protect them even though their lives did not exhibit the deep commitment God desired. God’s prophets who spoke this way were not honoured, but mocked, arrested, imprisoned, and even executed. Jesus was courting disaster.

On that Monday of the first Holy Week, Jesus shut down operations in the temple and forecast its destruction. No wonder the authorities wanted to kill Jesus!

In a way, Jesus would himself become a kind of substitute temple. The temple was the place, the focal point of humanity’s access to God. Jesus, like the temple itself, was destroyed, killed – and his death, and then his resurrection on Easter Sunday, became our access to God.

Prayer: “Lord, I see that you were not just angry but also hurt that they had turned the sacred, simple, holy place into a market – the way we in our society make everything into a market, all about money and getting. You judged all that and tried to clean it up – along with our vapid religiosity that vainly imagines a few quick prayers will get you to do our bidding and then you will leave us be. I am as weary as you were with a thin, self-indulgent faith. Clean up my soul, and your church.”

 

Sunday 5 April

From: Revd. Pat Olivent-Hayes – with my love and prayers…

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I greet you all in the All-powerful Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

God gave Him the Name that is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus everyone shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Phil.2:10)

The Bible declares that the demons shiver at the sound of His Name. (Even the dreadful Coronavirus).

THE PEACE OF THE LORD BE WITH YOU!

It is with an element of sadness and longing that I felt I must write to you today. Simply because we cannot see each other face to face. It feels a bit like St. Paul writing from his prison cell.

These uncertain times that we currently live in bring to mind the words of the hymn:

“Just as I am ” by Charlotte Elliott,”

“JUST AS I AM, though tossed about, with many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fighting and fears within, without, O Lamb of God I come.”

Amidst the buzzwords like Lockdown, COVID-19 and all that goes along with it and everyone looking for some comfort and encouragement from Scripture, I would draw our attention as Christ followers to the  present context in which all this is occurring.

We are now in the time of Lent where we as Christians remember Christ’s suffering and death but also how He rose victoriously over sin and death. Today (Sunday April 5th, 2020) is still a time when we are in the ‘Lockdown period’ in our country. But it is also the Day of Palms (Palm Sunday). It is on this day that we witness our King Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He is riding on a donkey (not on horseback), for He is coming in PEACE. …the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this? And then the crowds replied, This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Friends, He is still the same Jesus, the Immanuel God with us, in us, ever-present among us. He is able to redeem the world from the grip of the dreadful and devastating COVID-19. His blood will never lose its power.

The well-known hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus” instructs us all “HAVE YOU TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS, IS THERE TROUBLE ANYWHERE? WE SHOULD NEVER BE DISCOURAGED: TAKE IT TO THE LORD IN PRAYER.”

Let us therefore, fervently and ceaselessly intercede in prayer for all those who are affected and infected. Pray for the sick, the bereaved, the numerous businesses and employees who are adversely affected by the consequences of this pandemic, the economy both locally and globally.

Thank God for the unsung heroes who render selfless essential services and by so doing put their own lives at risk. Thank God for the men and women who so generously open their heart and hands by donations of money, food and other gifts for the relief of others.

Intercede for our political and religious leaders’ and for all involved in the positive outcome of this world crisis.

My personal thanks to all who are heeding the call to stay at home and keeping the necessary distance and exercising the required hygienic processes,
Finally, You may like to use the following Celtic Prayer daily:

CIRCLE ME LORD, KEEP PROTECTION NEAR AND DANGER AFAR.
CIRCLE ME LORD, KEEP HOPE WITHIN AND DOUBT WITHOUT.
CIRCLE ME LORD, KEEP LIGHT NEAR AND DARKNESS AFAR.
CIRCLE ME LORD, KEEP PEACE WITHIN AND EVIL OUT.        (by David Adams)

Be blessed and stay safe.

Do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of help and support.