The magazinefor the
In this issue:
July – August 2020
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Revd Jeremy Tresise
Jayne Bunn (Wheelock)
Jean Ellershaw (Elworth>
Karen Foster (Sandbach)
Edna Lawton (Ettiley Heath)
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“… like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood… a holy nation, God’s own people… that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” 1 Peter 2: 5&9
Welcome to this edition of the Link magazine.
It is brought to you in these very unusual times of pandemic, lockdown, restrictions and social distancing. It means that this edition is very different to previous ones as we have no church events to report on and no events that we can publicise with any certainty that they will actually take place! A special warm welcome to our friends from Haslington and Winterley, who are also included in our circulation.
I would like to say a special thank you to all those who have contributed to this edition and have helped make it a varied and eclectic read!
Being unable to use our buildings however does not prevent us from being church. In many ways we can become more like the church that God always intended us to be; a community of prayer, love and worship without using our buildings.
We have prayed together on Saturday mornings, house groups have still met via Zoom, we have kept in contact with one another more closely than before. The Foodbank is kept busy with people volunteering their time to ensure that others in our community remain well fed. Christian Aid week has given us the opportunity to support those further afield as they are helped to support themselves. There are opportunities to try other forms of worship online or on radio and TV.
The details of these events and others are contained in this issue of The Link but one thing binds them all – they happened despite us not having the use of a building called the church (or maybe they have been made possible because we have no building called the church?).
The passage from the first letter of Peter reminds us that the only building that really matters is the spiritual house built from living stones. In other words God’s love is to be found in the community of believers who feel called to proclaim and share that love with those around them. Being a royal priesthood means enabling God’s will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven rather than (inadvertently) obstructing or hiding what God really wants. It is through this community of love that God’s kingdom will be built.
Interestingly the only mention in the post Easter readings I could find of the disciples remaining within a building was in John’s gospel, ‘the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the authorities, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be upon you.”’ (John 20:19).
I think too often we have been hiding in fear in our church buildings and we need to experience afresh the peace that Jesus brings to our hearts and the courage that this gives. Is it not time we came out from behind the closed doors of our church buildings and really became the church that God intends us to be, a spiritual house built from living stones?
This short hymn by Carol Ikeler is not found in Singing the Faith but it is in Rejoice and Sing, the hymn book of the URC. I think it sums up well the sort of church we are called to be.
Carol Ikeler (Sung to the tune of The Bard of Armagh)
Please take care and keep yourself safe and remember that we are all part of a community of love that stretches further than we can imagine.
Although our church buildings are closed for acts of public worship, Jeremy is recording a service every week, and this is available on Soundcloud:
and also on the Sandbach Methodist Church website:www.sandbachmethodist.org.uk.
If you are not online and would like to listen, you could phone a friend or relative who could try to play the service to you down the phone. Over 100 people are listening to the service each week, and the hope is that we feel connected to each other as the body of Christ during these times of social isolation. Other worship resources can be found here: www.methodist.org.uk/our-faith/worship/singing-the-faith-plus/seasons-and-themes/worship-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/.
It’s not quite the same on Sundays,
Have we been left in the lurch?
There’s no-one at Wesley Avenue,
We cannot go to church.
The organ isn’t playing,
No words are on the screen,
No flowers on the table,
And nobody to be seen.
But in this situation,
There’s something to bear in mind,
The service is on your computer,
Just seek and ye shall find!
Somewhere among the emails,
The Facebook, Twitter and Zoom,
Reverend Tresise is bringing
The service to your room!
Simply click on the arrow,
The service is online,
We can all worship together,
But without the bread and wine!
So let’s unite in prayer,
Sing praises with one voice,
Look forward to seeing each other,
Once more, we will rejoice.
Although we can’t meet together in person for the time being, we are still able to pray together every Saturday at 9:30am. Jeremy hosts this meeting on Zoom:
Meeting ID: 240 209 483
Meeting password: 7cnijY
Please do join in with the prayers if you are able.
This has been at my bedside for a long time. It has sustained me throughout that time.
I feel that there is never one time that is of greater significance than any other however this prayer may well help others as it has helped me.
I live alone, dear Lord, stay by my side
In all my daily needs be thou my guide.
Grant me good health, for that indeed, I pray
To carry on my work from day to day.
Keep pure my mind, my thoughts, my every deed
Let me be kind, unselfish in my neighbours need.
Spare me from fire, from flood, malicious tongues
From thieves, from fear and evil ones.
If sickness or an accident befall
Then humbly, Lord I pray hear thou my call.
And when I’m feeling low, or in despair,
Lift up my heart and help me in my prayer.
I live alone, dear Lord, yet have no fear,
Because I feel your presence ever near.
Christian Aid faces a huge dilemma this year. For decades, it has relied on the generous donations of the general public to fund its overseas aid and development programmes aimed at alleviating poverty and addressing crisis situations. Last year the total raised was in excess of £8m and engaged around 57,000 volunteers. This year, due to Covid-19, there are no door-to-door collections, but we are still being encouraged to donate. This year the focus is on Kenya, which is experiencing its worst drought in living memory, and now has Coronavirus to contend with too. The prospect is extremely worrying. What were we all told to do to combat Coronavirus? “Wash your hands”. Well, that’s not difficult if you have soap and water. Christian Aid is helping Kenyans to build water traps and dams, without which many will die from a basic lack of water and hygiene. We remember from Holy Week how when Pontius Pilate could not find any fault in Jesus he ‘washed his hands’ claiming to be “innocent of this man’s blood” (Matthew 27:24). Please let’s not “wash our hands” of the plight of our Kenyan brothers and sisters. If you can, please donate a little something to Christian Aid this year. There is also an online petition calling for the government to cancel the debt of some of the poorest countries to help them survive: www.christianaid.org.uk/campaigns/debt-jubilee-petition.
Sandbach Christian Aid Group supporters are sorry we cannot visit people at home to collect this year or run our usual coffee mornings but hope people will donate online directly or via our local Just Giving page. Last year we raised £4,500 during Christian Aid Week in the Sandbach area. At a time when all charities are struggling please think about Christian Aid and the world’s poorest people and support us this Christian Aid Week. You can give via the Sandbach Christian Aid Group Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/team/justice.
Deborah Darnes Chair of Sandbach Group
Rob, Lynne and Karen were disappointed to not be able to do a charity concert in the Wesley Centre and at New Life Congleton this Summer, as has become our tradition, and so we hit upon the idea to have a ‘virtual concert’. And here it is: www.soundcloud.com/virtualconcert.Just click on the link above then on the play button in Soundcloud to listen to our concert. It’s not a professional recording, but it’s not bad and sound is improved if you have headphones or external speakers that you can attach. For those of you not familiar with our work, Rob plays the piano and the organ, Lynne plays the flute and Karen plays the harp and sings. Sadly the three of us couldn’t all sing together due to the social distancing restrictions in place. We are hoping that if you enjoy the music you will feel able to donate something to Christian Aid. You can do this using our JustGiving Page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/virtualconcert.
As I write this, it has been nine weeks since I last had my hair cut. I’ve missed two cuts already, and by the time you read this it’s likely to be 14 weeks and three missed haircuts! As a result it is getting quite long (for me) and bushy and the highlights I usually have have been replaced by mousiness (!) with some silvery streaks. I expect many of you will be sympathising with this and worrying about your own hair. Maybe some of you have had a go at cutting it yourself – I’ve resisted this temptation partly due to the number of scary photographs of do-it-yourself haircuts that have been circulating on social media – here’s a taster!
This reminds me of when I was about 10 years old. I had long straight hair and decided it was boring and needed a few layers cutting in to it. Knowing this wouldn’t be allowed I decided to have a go myself. Needless to say it was not successful, and I tried to cover up the fact I’d cut it myself by saying I slipped with the shears when I was cutting the edges of the lawn! (Why is it that kids think their parents are stupid and will believe any old rubbish?!)
This has all got me to thinking that actually it shouldn’t and doesn’t matter what we look like, it’s what’s inside that really matters, and the actions that we take as a result of who we are. There are numerous bible references to back this up, like 1 Peter 3: 3-4: “Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight.” ; 1 Samuel 16: 7: “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”; and finally we have Jesus’s words in Matthew 23: 27-28: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Of course we all know this already, but it’s not always easy to put it into practice. We come to expect certain standards of outward appearance from others and expect that they have them of us, and so we feel the pressure to fall in to line. At present we can’t necessarily do that, and when we all emerge at the end of the lockdown (whenever that might be) with hair down to our ankles and sticking out at all angles, just remember that it’s really not important.
The swallows are back. The fruit trees have blossom. Spring has arrived.
A few weeks ago I was delighted to see that eleven ewes with their baby lambs had arrived in the paddock belonging to our neighbour. The farm where they come from is up in Sutton but the farmer uses our neighbour’s paddock and his eight acre field behind to pasture some of his sheep. When about twenty ewes plus lambs have arrived, they are moved into the big field. There are thirty ewes and they each usually have twins so in total through the summer there are about ninety sheep. We leave the gate open into our paddock so that the sheep can wander in from the big field and “cut our grass” for us.
We are also very fortunate to have a resident male pheasant who comes to the house and demands that we fill up the seed tray. He keeps us amused by chasing seven or eight girlfriends. He runs at great speed on his little legs then drops one wing and circles round the female saying “just look how beautiful I am, I have all the colours of the rainbow and look at this wing”. She just keeps on pecking away at the grass.
Last week we had a new visitor – a rat, sitting in broad daylight eating something in the lawn. It had no fear when approached and just sauntered off down the side of the house where our cat happened to be sitting in the sun on his little wooden seat specially made for him by Michael. He looked up and saw the passing rat, stretched and went back to sleep. It was by no means a big rat and he could easily have killed it so we have changed his name to ‘Wimp’, is he bothered?
I thought I ought to advise our neighbour as the nest could be in their compost heap. Within minutes “Rambo” arrived with his gun and shot it. Not much renewal there then.
Christian love to all,
Future events – none are currently planned.
Chris Bourne has written this poem expressing feelings about the current situation:
What is this enemy, we all despair,
We have no cure, just nursing care. No new medicine to make us well,
No end in sight that we can tell.
I say to you, do not despair,
We have the strongest weapon in prayer.
The last issue of Link reported that Wheelock was finally ‘back to normal’ after the flooding incident. Well that didn’t last long!
The ‘New normal’ has become a weekly newsletter and Methodist service sent out via email with a few delivered by hand during daily exercise and some by post. We do not produce our own service of worship but have enjoyed those found on TV, Facebook (recorded or live ‘Watch’ services) or the written devotions produced by the Methodist Church.
We are now told we may be able to resume worship in July but who knows what restrictions will be made? The warm fellowship enjoyed within our churches allows us to interact through conversations, sharing meals and contact through handshakes/hugs and touch. All important features of being Christ’s followers. The curse of Covid-19 is its ability to isolate us, making us behave in ways alien to our nature.
The new slogan is ‘Stay Alert’ and having checked the dictionary we should indeed ‘pay full attention to the things around us so that we can deal with anything which might happen’. We can only pray that our watchfulness and care help prevent further spread of the virus and keep us safe. We can’t know what the future will bring but we can rest assured that ‘we know who holds the future’.
Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46: 10)
In these challenging and sad times when thousands of families have lost loved ones to Coronavirus, the church family at Ettiley Heath are coming to terms with losing our long-time organist, Marion (Jodrell). Marion had been our organist for well over thirty years and we will all miss her greatly. Before Marion became our full-time organist, she was our Sunday School pianist for many, many years. Like her mother before her, Marion just loved music and at Anniversary time loved the opportunity of going through all the new hymns and songs and choosing which we would be learning for Sunday School Anniversary weekend. This was a fun time for everyone involved and in those days Sunday School children were plentiful.
Marion was involved in various jobs relating to our church over the years; she was Sunday School secretary, Sunday School teacher, organised supper for after carol singing and along with her husband Roy, helped with the Circuit train trips to London. Marion was someone who you could always rely on if help were needed. Marion was also one of the founder group members of Mums and Toddlers at Ettiley Heath.
Marion was a school dinner lady at St. Peter’s Church School in Elworth which led to her being their resident pianist for many years. She loved being involved with the children’s music classes and they loved her.
We will all remember Marion in our own different ways; for me she was a lifelong friend who took me to Sunday School at age 3, taught me at Sunday School and then in later years we worked together at Palmer & Mann (the old Salt works on Ettiley Heath). Maybe to some people Marion would appear to be quiet and timid but, to those of us who knew her well, she was far from this and had a really outgoing personality which shone through in her love of the Lord Jesus. In latter months when struggling with health problems, she remained strong and determined; nothing was ever going to keep her from church each Sunday to play the organ. Marion was a truly loyal and faithful servant to the end.
Her favourite Bible verse which hung on the wall in her home was from the book of Psalms: “Be still and know that I am God”, which seems appropriate currently when we are all fearful of the happenings around us. What does this verse mean for us? We can all take a moment to “be still” and during that time know God will always be there for us, no matter what. Exodus 14: 14 “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still”
Lastly, Marionís favourite hymn…
Lord of all being, throned afar, Thy glory flames from sun and star;
Centre and soul of every sphere, yet to each loving heart how near.
Lord of all life, below, above, whose light is truth, whose warmth is love,
before thy ever-blazing throne, we ask no lustre of our own.
We remember in our prayers, the sick, Peter & Pat Cliffe, Eileen Proudlove, Frank & Vera Wade, Gladys Webb and Joy Bloor.
Well how the world has changed since the last edition of Link. In the last edition we were concerned about the effects of storm Ciara and we guess the nation was still focused very much on Brexit – oh the good old days.
Since 23 March, we like the rest of the country have been in isolation, in one form or another.
Sunday services on the television and radio provide a time of worship, song and prayer.
Our phones are a great source of keeping in touch with friends, especially from the church and other organisations along with Facebook, Zoom and other social media.
Where we have been unable to keep in touch with friends and family members, we have sent cards through the post.
A lot of us have caught up with reading, completing crosswords and puzzles.
Exercise for all has included jogging, walking, skipping, gardening, DIY, dog walking and cycling.
For those who are still working, travelling by car is a lot easier with so little traffic on the roads.
And of course, every Thursday evening we have joined in giving thanks to our NHS by clapping from our doorsteps and front gardens.
We are all looking forward to the next stage of loosening the lockdown, hopefully before too long so we can at least get to see each other again, even if just in small groups maintaining social distancing ’ another new phase we are all now so accustomed to hearing.
See you all again soon.
My ‘significant’ birthday plans, for a family weekend in Leominster, at the end of April had to be cancelled, due to the Covid-19 crisis.
I had limited expectations for the actual day… how wrong could I have been?!
I had cards, flowers and gifts delivered in many different ways, which resulted in social distancing dancing and plenty of hand gel!
Zoom meetings with family and friends, and cake and prosecco with neighbours followed.
My biggest surprise was when two of my daughters and two grandchildren arrived, complete with birthday banner, and cake! How difficult was social distancing then?
So not exactly what had been originally planned, but still a truly memorable and lovely day.
The final surprise of the day was receiving a birthday ‘tweet’ from the 1970s pop star David Essex… but that’s a story for another time!
With time to knit, let me introduce Godfrey Gadabout who is now ready for the lucky square competition at our next Good Cause coffee morning.
As we hear of all the volunteers working so hard to help those in need it brought to mind one of our popular hymns:
Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace
to let you be my servant too.
We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.
Thanks to each and every volunteer.
At 8:30pm on 23 March, the PM Boris Johnson addressed the country, including these extracts of his words; ‘From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home… Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households… That is why people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes: travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.’
For the 30 million people who work in the UK these words gave rise to some confusion and interpretation.
What about people who work in factories, manufacturing facilities and construction sites, where they can only do their work at these facilities? As it was late in the evening there was limited opportunity for people in these workplaces to fully understand what the implications of these words meant for them – should I go to work tomorrow?
On the following day some people went to these work places and others stayed away for many reasons; to look after their children who were now at home from school, because they were in a risk category, they didn’t feel comfortable going to work, should they stay at home to help prevent the NHS being overwhelmed or they thought they had been told not to go to work.
On that Tuesday following the PMs address thousands of companies, large and small worked out, at very short notice what to do, although for weeks before contingency plans and additional hygiene and health measures had been put in place. The effect over the first week was that factories and manufacturing facilities shut or most people stayed at home. People are employed in different ways, directly on PAYE, self-employed, employed through agencies etc.
In many cases firms put their people into furlough (a new word we are all now familiar with). Furlough means any company, who has no work for their people due to the Covid outbreak can ‘furlough’ their people – send them home, continue to pay them 80% of their salary up to a maximum figure and the Government will, in the future, reimburse the company. To obtain this Government payment people have to be furloughed for a minimum three-week period. So, most companies, especially small and medium sized companies quickly furloughed their people. They did this to protect their businesses. The result of this was that many people became unavailable for work. In most sectors companies either closed or continued with a vastly decreased number of people in work.
Companies continued to put in place and improve robust medium-term health measures. This now includes health check points – every morning prior to anyone being allowed to enter a facility, working methods ensuring people work a minimum 2m distance apart, sanitation stations, full time cleaning of all surfaces, additional toilet and canteen facilities to maintain distancing, operations where distancing cannot be avoided being stopping and one way people flows, so people do not have to pass each other.
In the last few weeks people are now gradually retuning to work in these new controlled environments, in line with NHS England and Government guidelines.
Of course, for all those who do not have to be in the factory or manufacturing environment work from home. People now spend many hours in front of their laptops having meetings over the internet. Sometimes the connections are great, other times you might hear one word in three.
Most people have been affected, being furloughed with reduced pay, having to explore what benefits are available if they are not PAYE employees, dramatic pay cuts and concerns for their long-term prospects.
As places gradually re-open or increase their activities, this creates demand again for products and gradually more facilities are opening with limited activities and new strict health controls.
People numbers are not back to the levels before the outbreak but are now starting to gradually increase under a ‘new normal’.
As you can imagine people’s reactions have been mixed, what is the best thing to do to protect the NHS and their family, am I an at-risk person, how can we contribute to help in the survival of their organisations.
The long-term impact on all companies has yet to be realised along with the jobs they provide. Across all industry with no work or reduced activities some companies will not survive.
A couple of things stand out, organisations and individual people are working through these challenges – doing the right thing for those around them and for others. The other is how organisations and people are adapting to this ‘new normal’ – these measures will be with us for some time to come.
As with many of us brought up in the Christian Church, John Wesley’s belief was influenced by his upbringing and in particular that of his mother Susanna. Having diligently studied the Bible he was ordained as an Anglican priest at the age of 23. However, it was to be another twelve years before he encountered the Holy Spirit and felt his ‘heart strangely warmed7RSQUO;. He went on to develop what we can call ‘theological guidelines’ using four sources to assist Christians in their theological development. These four sources or ‘Pillars’: Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience are said to be like four people coming to the table and having a conversation.
Scripture: do you have a favourite film or book that you have seen or read so many times that you know it inside out and back to front? For me itís the Chronicles of Narnia or Harry Potter books. I know the stories so well that I don’t really enjoy the films because they are not accurate to the original storyline. So how familiar are we with Scripture? Do we see the connections between the old and new testaments or do we only know the obvious stories and those we hear on a Sunday? Just as we can’t consider ourselves a fan of a football team if we don’t watch them play and follow their progress, can we really call ourselves Christians if we don’t truly know the stories and follow by example?
Tradition: Wesley believed strongly in the traditions of the Christian Church, but this was rooted in the practices of Jesus, the disciples and the early or ‘Primitive’ Christians. When towards the end of his ministry, he felt that the Methodists needed to return to the traditions of the ‘Primitive’ Methodists he of course was again referring them back to Jesus. The danger for us as a church is we become so steeped in church traditions which have nothing to do with Christ, that we fear change so much that we risk throwing the baby out with the new bathwater.
Experience: not as you might think, just experiencing enjoyment of a particular sermon or song, or even a certain style or place of worship, although these are important. Wesley is referring to our life experiences with others and ultimately, assurance of sanctification and justification that can only happen when we are in an ongoing personal relationship with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. These life experiences include observations of human nature and the experiences of others. Our beliefs need to be compatible with the world around us and these don’t always match up to the ideal we seek to emulate from the scriptures. For instance we may believe that marriage should be for life, but when a relationship becomes toxic and harmful then it no longer becomes compatible with this edict. After all marriage was introduced to protect women and if they are no longer safe then they may need to be released.
Reason: this is not something invented by human beings, it is a gift given to us by God. It therefore requires commune with the Holy Spirit to make sense of what we are examining. It would also be reasonable to suggest that the counsel of saints be a significant act in discerning God’s Will in understanding scripture. Wesley frequently sought the counsel of his mother, over subjects such as the acceptability of women preachers. Just as John did not feel assured of his salvation until he connected with the Holy Spirit we too need to surround ourselves with the Holy Spirit and spiritually mature Christians. The gift of Reason allows us to make sense of our study of Scripture, our understanding of the importance of Tradition and the recognition of God in our Experiences.
So what of our own spiritual table?
Who or what dominates the conversation there?
You won’t be surprised to learn that the Sandbach foodbank has been very busy over the last few weeks – here are some statistics which show how the need has grown since last year at the same time:
The above table shows the number of food parcel referrals that we have dealt with during February through to April and how this compares to the same period last year. As you can see demand has increased dramatically since the coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown period began. In addition to the above we’ve provided between 16 and 21 small parcels every week to families whose children would normally get a free school meal. This will continue for as long as we are able to do it (food supplies, money and volunteers permitting). Every Monday afternoon a small team of volunteers do the ‘Foodbank dance’ as we try to maintain the requisite 2m distance while getting the small schools parcels ready.
Most of our regular volunteers are over 70 and are therefore self-isolating, which left us with a problem, but not for long as upwards of 30 people volunteered to help out, largely through a council Facebook page appeal &ndsh; an amazing response. We are very grateful to these people; however it’s unlikely that we’ll need to use them all.
We have also been blessed by people’s donations – both food and cash – as well as individual donations which are still coming in, the Sandbach Cricket Club had a food collection, Godfrey Williams and Waitrose have both donated food, and we have been given a fairly substantial monthly grant from a local trust fund, for six months.
We also have the benefit of the cushion of the Co-op money donated last year to fall back on if required. This money is being used to replenish our food stocks, which are running down much quicker than usual, as you would expect, and we are also very grateful to volunteers who are doing weekly shopping to ensure that stocks can be replenished.
We have fairly recently become a member of IFAN – the Independent Food Aid Network – which provides support to independent foodbanks (i.e. those not run by the Trussel Trust). Although initially hesitant about becoming a member, all fears have now been put aside as they have been amazing during this crisis – providing suggestions and contacts for sourcing food supplies; information and guidance; small grants if needed; gloves, masks and hand sanitiser; and finally just general moral and practical support as needed. Thank you IFAN! And thank you to everyone who has helped us in any way – too numerous to mention and we’d be bound to miss someone and upset them!
Karen Foster and Deborah Darnes
Thoughts of a Buddhist
Itís been a long time since I last wrote an article for the Link magazine and some good friends are no longer with us since I did.
But with the current situation around the world, I thought I might share something a Buddhist monk said not so long ago that I feel is particularly relevant now.
He said, “Don’t panic! Everything is out of control.”
I love this as it’s an admission that since we can barely control what happens to ourselves and the things around us, how on Earth are we expected to control anything else?
Those in power around the world are currently making decisions that affect us all and will sometimes be so serious as to be life threatening. Whilst we watch this play out on TV with statistics that are often meaningless, it is almost like watching a movie rather than it being real.
And we sit waiting for some good news of how it is all ‘ok again now’ and the problem has gone away.
The trouble is, it isnít just now that ‘everything is out of control’; it has always been this way. Waiting for someone to be in control will be a long wait and I personally have heard some ludicrous statements coming from those who purport to be in control.
Maybe it is better to accept that the world is very precarious and try and be careful with how we all individually behave within it. Those of us who believe in God, will one day leave it behind and hopefully find ourselves in a better place. In the meantime, let’s try and care for each other.
Have you been intrigued by a question missing in the recent national debate – where is God in a Coronavirus World? Well if that happens to be a question on your mind, a good read can be found in a small book with the title ‘Where is God in a Coronavirus World?’ – written by the Irish Mathematician John C Lennox.
John takes us from Genesis to Revelations in a mere 62 pages, each packed with Biblical, scientific, historical and literature reference. Its factual and scientific interlacing with the Bible and literature is nothing short of masterful and inspiring. It’s difficult to precis his big little book other than to quote his postscript referencing the words of a 19th Century preacher;
‘God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart’. ‘Where is God in a Coronavirus World?’ is available online from The Good Book Company for around £2·50.
The 2020 Methodist Conference, which was to take place from 25 June at the Telford Conference Centre, will now take place “virtually” as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions. This will include the confirmation of the appointment of this year&rsquuo;s President and Vice-President (elected for these posts last year), and the election of their successors, who will take their places in 2021. It should also include the approval to the ordination of new Ministers, although their Ordination Services will probably have to be arranged later.
The British Methodist Church of which we are part has a World Mission Fund, used to support partner churches around the world. In the light of extra problems created by the Covid-19 virus, a number of grants have recently been approved, including:
Church of SOUTH INDIA, £10,000 – to support community kitchens distributing food and medical supplies
Maua Methodist Hospital, KENYA, £10,000 – for PPE. Dr Claire Smithson has worked there as a Mission Partner for a number of years.
Methodist Church of Upper MYANMAR, £10,000 – to enable the church to support local families.
Pacific Theological College, FIJI £5,200 – for PPE and to support on-line learning.
Methodist Christian Community of VENEZUELA, £10,000 – for food, hygiene products, medicine and face masks.
Evangelical Methodist Churches of LATIN AMERICA, £9,225 – to support ongoing work
Retreat Centre ‘Ecumene’, ITALY, £10,000 – to help the centre to survive.
United Evangelical Methodist Church, ARGENTINA, £4,000 – to support Covid-19 relief work.
The Church of BANGLADESH, £20,000 – emergency food packages for needy families; each will receive rice, wheat, cooking oil, salt, pulses, sugar, medicine and a mask.
The United Methodist Church, COLOMBIA, £22,500 – for measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
The United Evangelical Methodist Church, ECUADOR, £15,700 – for food relief packages and PPE.
The Haiti District of the MCCA, £13,358 – for preventive measures to stop the spread of the virus among families with little running water and impossible social isolation.
MCCA, CARIBBEAN, £22,500 – to support ministers and church members, including provision of care packages comprising food and other necessities, medication and health expenses.
National Christian Council of SRI LANKA, £15,000 – for food and other basic needs for those made unemployed.
The Methodist Church in ZIMBABWE, £20,000 – to enable the provision of food to families with no income, and PPE for frontline staff.
All of which means you and I have a part (admittedly small) in helping thousands of men, women and children in desperate need all round the world!
from Christian Aid’s worship resources for 2020
‘For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come…
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
God of heaven and earth,
in these times of isolation,
apart from loved ones distant from friends
away from neighbours
thank you that there is nothing in all of creation,
not even coronavirus,
that is able to separate us from your love.
And may your love that never fails
continue to be shared
through the kindness of strangers
looking out for each other,
for neighbours near and far
all recognising our shared vulnerability,
each of us grateful for every breath,
and willing everyone to know the gift
of a full and healthy life.
Keep us all in your care.
If we are ill, strengthen us.
If we are tired, fortify our spirits.
If we are anxious, help us to consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air.
Help us not to stockpile treasures from supermarkets in the barns of our larders. Don’t let fear cause us to overlook the needs of others more vulnerable than ourselves. Fix our eyes on your story and our hearts on your grace.
Help us always to hold fast to the good,
See the good in others,
And remember there is just one world, one hope,
One everlasting love, with baskets of bread for everyone.
In Jesus we make our prayer, The one who suffered, died and was raised to new life,
In whom we trust these days and all days,
The Revd Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference