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Parish Magazine Article - April 2020

Dear Friends,

I am writing this just after the Archbishop of Canterbury has told us about the suspension of public worship and other measures to limit the possible spread of Covid-19. It seems as if April 2020 will be one of the strangest and most difficult months most of us have ever known. Many passages of Scripture may speak to you; I am reminded of the opening of Ezekiel 34, where the people of Israel are described as sheep scattered on the mountains. We have been told that, for our own good and more so that of those vulnerable to illness, we must be scattered and into our own separate places.

And it is this which suggests the best thing we can all do in response – we may not be able to meet in person, but we can connect in other ways, and these are especially important for those who may find it hard to bear the isolation and uncertainty. We can message and email one another. If we telephone (especially on Skype/Facetime or similar) we shall have more of the human interaction we all need, both to receive and to give. The Archbishops have suggested that we should place a lit candle in our windows at 7pm each day as a sign that we are praying for our neighbours.

Above all, we can connect with God in prayer. Of course, that has always been true, but in the long waits we may now be enduring, there will be real and unexpected space to pray and listen to the Spirit, and pour out our fears and concerns. If you continue in Ezekiel 34, you will read God’s recognition of the limits of worldly leaders, and promises, “I myself will seek out my sheep.” In Jesus Christ he did seek and find us, and in him is our hope as in so many past ages of doubt and danger.

Revd Neil Patterson

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