PASTORAL LETTER No . 3 – Fr Keith
From Fr Keith….
How are your spirits keeping up? No, not the one’s in the bottle (although I hope they’re ok!) but your own spirit? I have to admit that there are times when I could climb up the walls and scream from the rooftops! It’s not natural for most of us to be ‘cooped’ up for so long and without the joy of human interaction. I really miss a face to face conversation; a pint in the pub; a meal out or an evening in with friends – simple pleasures which we generally take for granted and we are now deprived of them. Looking on the brighter side, we know that we are doing what is necessary to contain and curtail this virus and the signs from the statisticians are looking more hopeful than they were. There will be an end to all of this but sadly, we can’t predict when.
A sign of encouragement to us all is that faith is still burns brightly in our hearts and the spirit of hope is very much alive and well! I’ve been amazed at how many people have shouted from the other side of the street how much they have valued this weekly letter and our broadcast Eucharists on Facebook and You -Tube suggest we are trebling our normal congregation with 117 hits… and still rising! Of course, without the help of Jane and Alex L-S we may never have gone on air…. but the wonders of technology leads us into new and exciting areas and we’re all on a sharp learning curve in using this new wizardry!
Sharing our faith is not something that comes naturally to most British people. I remember as a teenager being acutely embarrassed when I was stopped in the street by an overpowering man carrying his floppy bible and asking me very loudly if I had met Jesus! I’ve never believed that this approach is the best for conveying faith and often seems to do more harm than good! The Scriptures teach me that through the example of Jesus, we can see that faith is ‘caught, not taught’– it is through example that we see Christ in one another and through example that others are brought to his feet. The spirit of Christ and the hope of Christ is what will change this world.
In these difficult days, it is not easy to set a good example to others as we’re not encouraged to meet them! but the acts of kindness I’ve witnessed in these days within the village and beyond, speak lounder than any ‘tub thumping’ Christian can ever do. The gift of the Holy Spirit really does burn brightly in so many people even when they don’t acknowledge it themselves.
I still find great encouragement from hymns as these so often are the heartfelt prayers of the faithful and of those who struggling with their understanding of God. The hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ exemplifies this beautifully. These words from an old hymn ‘Heavenly Father, may thy blessing’ point us towards something of the Christian life:
May we learn from this great story,
All the arts of friendliness.
Truthful speech and honest action,
Courage, patience, steadfastness.
How to master self and temper
How to make our conduct fair.
When to speak and when be silent,
When to do – and when forbear.
So… keep the faith; love one another and love God. Pray for one another and for our Parish and never fail to give thanks for those working so very hard to protect us – NHS workers, care workers, the Forces, delivery people, shop keepers, food chain suppliers…. And ordinary folk who just want to help…. The list goes on…..and as a ‘Thank-you’ to them, go outside again on Thursday evening and every Thursday evening at 8.00pm and make a noise with a bell, a pan and spoon or whatever else you’ve got!
Keep well, keep safe and God bless.