June 2020

Monday, 01 June 2020 10:04 Be the first to comment!

"Lockdown and Coronavirus ...."

Dear Fellside Folk,

I’m sure that, like me, this whole Coronavirus lock-down is getting a bit tedious and you wish it could all be over, that we could just get back to how things were before. No doubt for some of you there is rather more urgency to it than that.

Perhaps home schooling children has been a real challenge – what do you do with all that energy? How do teachers get children to sit still, focus and work? And children just need to see their friends – and ..........

Or maybe it is work, or rather that it has stopped, and how are you going to pay the mortgage and the other bills and .........?

Or maybe you are just struggling and need to see people for real, in the flesh, to be able to have a hug, a chat, a laugh whether it is with parents, children or grand-children, or other family, or friends, or whomever ...........

Or maybe the pressure and strain of having to care for people, whether at home, or neighbours, or in a Care Home or Hospital with all the stuff of PPE, and safe caring, and keeping yourself and your family safe ........... AND ............ AND we don’t know and we can’t know how it’s all going to work out, and no-one can tell us.

Well that is one side of the story, but there is another side too which we shouldn’t forget or undervalue.

There are such amazing acts of kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness which stop us in our tracks – often unsung, done quietly, some help here, a gift there, that unexpected phone call that brings light and joy into difficult times.

Then there are the things that catch the imagination and fly like Capt (now Hon. Colonel, soon to be Sir) Tom Moore and his hundred laps of the garden for the NHS.

Or there is the time that we’ve had to spend together at home, all the normal routines of life disrupted, discovering different ways of being and maybe even having time to re-evaluate our priorities.

And of course there are those working in the NHS and Care Homes who have been working their socks off caring for people who’ve been impacted badly by this virus, sometimes winning and sometimes not, doing their job and coping with everything that this brings.

Also there are those in our corner shops, our supermarkets and delivery systems who have been keeping us fed and supplied in the face of all the risks the virus brings.

All these myriad acts of love and kindness in their different ways are facets of the love of God in action for, as the St John writes, ‘God is love and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them’.

I’m sure that in and through it all, for all the challenges and all the moments that lift our hearts, stuff is going on that will change us and transform us as people.

Of course that can cut both ways, we could be tempted to retreat into selfishness, just looking out for ourselves and those closest to us, but I think these strange times (once we got over the loo-roll shock!) have opened up people’s hearts and spirits – which isn’t surprising because love is the one thing that the more of it you give away, the more of it there is to give.

So in all these struggles, and the things that encourage and inspire us, something good and godly is going on in our spirits.

As Paul puts it: ‘hardship develops perseverance, and perseverance develops tested character, something that gives us hope, and a hope that will not let us down because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit’(Romans 5.4-5).

May we know and live that love which God shares with us as we continue through these days.

Finally, please keep in your prayers the family of Rev’d Owen Vigeon, formerly vicar of St Hilda’s Bilsborrow who has sadly recently died. He was Vicar back in the 70s.

God Bless,

Steve.

Dear Friends,

The moment when we acknowledge the presence and reality of God – that he is the creator and we are his beloved creation – we open up a whole new set of questions: If God is God, then what does that mean for me? How do I live in relationship with God? What is God’s will for me? Of course, these are questions not easily answered.

A good number of years ago a friend of mine was wondering whether God might be calling him to ordained ministry, and asked me what I thought? My reply was twofold. Firstly, to pray for the idea to go away – if it was of God, then it wouldn’t go away, whereas if it was of him it would soon pass. Second, he that was too good a Christian to be wasted on ordained ministry – there would be much more important things for him to do for the Kingdom of God.

As it turned out, the idea went away and instead he went to the US to do post-graduate studies. Now he’s a professor of theology in a US university where he teaches hundreds of students each year to think about the God questions in the complexities of the modern world – a much more important role for the Kingdom of God than being a Vicar!

So what might the will of God be for you? for me? A couple of years ago we did a course called ‘Life on the Frontline’. The premise of the course was that everyone is on the frontline of the Kingdom of God, whether at home, down the pub, at work, with the children or grand-children, at the gym, with our friends, or wherever. First and foremost, where we are is where we’re called to be the Body of Christ, his presence in the world. Though it may change as we journey with God, where we are now is where God is calling us to be his people, on the frontline of the Kingdom of God – for now this is his will for us, each one of us.

It is tempting to put the idea of special ministries on a pedestal, vicars and the like, as something to be looked up to. The truth of the matter is that our first calling, above all others, is to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus. Living that out is always the will of god for us.

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