As I work in a different way from normal, I am receiving more emails from church members. That’s lovely and most of them contain stories of some encouragement on another and I thought you might like to hear those encouragements.
I had a wonderful photo from Hazel with a picture of candles in the Sandalwood residents’ windows at 7pm on Mothering Sunday – well done and thank you for a picture of lights all shining into the dark night. We can be like those lights on a daily basis, through our practical support, our picking up of the telephone to call someone and through our prayers – let your light shine!
I have had regular emails from Jane giving me wonderful words of inspiration and comfort, and the blessings from Malcolm Duncan’s Nite Blessings – see facebook for those. His prayers are wonderful and I copy last night’s at the end of this blog for your comfort.
I know that our Pastoral care team and others have been busily making sure everyone we can think of is linked in, and that our Comms leader has been working overtime to figure out the best use of technology for Sunday’s worship tomorrow, and for ongoing communication through the week. We are learning and, as I said to Paul the other day, we’re going to come out of this with new skills we never thought we’d need. As a church we’re going to acquire, not just new skills, but new friends, stronger relationships, better communication across the church. Keep building those telephone trees, and join me on Sunday through either your DVD or through the link on the website. If you know of someone who is in need of help practically or wants a DVD or newsletter they’re not getting, then the details to contact are on the newsletter – have a look. Or if you want to volunteer then look at this link – https://seftoncvs.org.uk – or go onto the NHS volunteer site.
Yesterday I also received a large cheque from a congregation member (thank you!) who is acutely aware that our income will have dropped off, but that we still employ 4 staff who are working overtime at the moment to keep the communication going and queries and worries answered, as well as still doing some of the more mundane and normal jobs that just have to happen. Thank you for that encouragement of care to all those who have given to keep our church functioning, even in the midst of suspension.
Anya spoke of being out running and came across some painted stones on the ground, which told her to “keep smiling” and “keep the love”. Thank you to the children that left them there for people to see. Keeping smiling and keeping the love flowing will see us through this.
And then, lastly, I have have been sent lots of funny images or jokes as well as interesting and helpful information through channels like WhatsApp, from colleagues and friends, I’ve had texts and messages from lots of friends and am reminded constantly that I am not alone. A laugh breaks the tension of disaster and helps me to keep going with renewed energy and better spirits, and just the contact of a text helps me know others are around. It may seem wrong and trivial to laugh at the moment but it’s also typically British to turn disaster into humour and laugh at ourselves or the situation. Many of us will be reeling when we do stop to think, about the changes to our lives. We will suffer feelings of fear, anger, shock, despair, numbness, sadness, maybe even guilt about not doing enough to help. Some evenings when I’ve watched the news I’ve found myself in tears over the death and the disaster, the breakdown of society. On Thursday night I went to bed and couldn’t sleep – I had adrenaline running and felt it was wrong to sleep when people were hurting and dying, and I needed to do something. But there was nothing I could do, the best thing I could do was to stop and stay still inside my home and garden – that just felt wrong but I know that was the best and safest thing to do, for me and for others, but I felt quite guilty for a while. I too am feeling fear, shock, anger, despair, sometimes numbness, sometimes guilt, and, overall, a deep sadness.
But that’s ok, we are in a season where all those emotions are appropriate. It is quite normal to feel these things in the midst of such a trauma to our lives and our community/world. We are suddenly bereaved of human contact and normal routine and normal freedoms, and all with the fear of tragic losses. In the midst of feelings of shock, sadness and fear, we need to talk and share with others, to have a laugh for a moment, to see some beauty in a photo or when we go outside, to listen to the sounds of the world around us, albeit quieter than normal in human noise. We need to remember too that God walks with us in the darkest of shadows, even the shadow of death (Psalm 23), and that he knows the situation, he cares about us, and he grieves with us. As with any suffering, for him to intervene and wipe away the virus would counteract the balance of the world and undermine his giving of it to humankind. He didn’t promise to keep us safe, he did promise to walk with us through the easy and the difficult, when it is safe and when it isn’t, and he told us not to fear for he is with us every step of the way.
Please, join together with me to worship on Sunday at 10am though the link on the website. Remember we will once again, sooner or later, walk in good times together. Until then, let’s keep in touch, stay at home, and keep praying.
My love and every blessing, Amanda
From Malcom Duncan’s Nite Blessings: May God hold you through the storm. When you feel like everything around you is shaking, may God steady your soul and still your heart. May the noise of the approaching tempest be displaced by the quiet whisper of God’s Presence. May you know God’s nearness though the fierceness of the gale and the crashing thunder, until all is stilled again. May God’s grace guard you. May Christ’s comfort caress you. May the Spirit’s strength enable you. Amen