The Minister's Message for April
Coronavirus but our basic pattern seemed set to continue. Since then, and within days, we have limited the gathering of people, suspended worship and closed the schools. Further restrictions may be around the corner. This letter will be in an eversion only - no magazines will be printed.
In line with guidelines from the Government and, now, central Methodism, the Circuit has decided that all services will be suspended for four weeks - that is from March 22nd to April 12th inclusive - the decision will be reviewed towards the end of the period. Please remember we do not cease to worship and pray because we cannot meet. All church and Circuit meetings are to be suspended. This decision also to be reviewed towards the end of the four weeks. This information is not confidential so you are very welcome to share it within the life of the church. Indeed it would be helpful if you did so. I would ask however that you share it in a sensitive and supportive way.
I have never lived through a global crisis before. My generation has been spared the direct experience of a world war though it has known profound battering by economic and social forces. Now however the Coronavirus has implications for every person on the planet.
As part of my pattern of Bible reading, I work through the book of psalms. Sometimes a phrase resonates with my experience but at other times the words can seem rather remote. Until recently I would have said that was the case for Psalm 91 where verse 6 speaks of whether or not you fear “the pestilence that walks about in darkness: the plague that destroys at noonday.”
People have been emptying the shelves of supermarkets and stockpiling everything from baked beans to toilet rolls. On the radio, I heard a psychologist suggest that the bulk-buying of toilet rolls was partly about necessity but was probably also linked to wanting to do something big to safeguard yourself, friends and family. Carrying big packs of toilet rolls does that.
What actions should we take as people of faith? We have no special protection as believers so we will want to follow government guidelines about using hand gel and regular washing.
If you are tired of singing Happy Birthday twice to time yourself washing your hands you might like to know that the Lord’s Prayer, said aloud at moderate speed, takes about the same amount of time.
It also has the advantage of focusing our trust on God. Our ultimate hope in God is the seed of our being a non-anxious presence in a place of fear. We are already aware of the demands being placed on the Health service by the virus. We are also aware of the importance of everyone looking out for the needy and the vulnerable in our church and the local community. We need to work in ways that are appropriate but phone calls, emails and other imaginative ideas can encourage those who are anxious and struggling with the limits being placed on our lives.
I have put together a list of every email address I know within the life of the church family. If you, therefore, think you would have heard from me please check your junk mail! If it is not there either, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org so that I have your email address. We will use the group mailing to encourage, but also to share resources and information.
In the meantime, you might like to know:- Worship at home sheets and details of some services that are live-streamed are available here. There are many other live streaming sources available. I'm sure there will be more about that in future emails: Singing the Faith
Last of all, may I encourage you to keep an eye on our web site http://www.rustington-methodist.co.uk/