Dear All,

Very soon we will most of us be getting used to a faster pace of life again.  How does that sound to you?

For some, I realise the pace of life has never slowed.  In fact, if you are a working parent with children being home-schooled, or a key-worker on extra hours, there is still no let-up.  However, for all those who are retired or who have been on furlough, or working from home at a gentle pace, there may be a reluctance to go back to what was maybe a rushing around, squeezing home pursuits between meetings and appointments.

‘There was silence in heaven for about half an hour’ (Revelation 8:1). This was as Jesus opened the seventh seal of a scroll which only He was deemed worthy to untie and look into.  It is as though all creation will hold its breath in that holy moment.  We, like the Psalmist David, can experience the wonder of God’s presence in holy moments, as we practice the discipline of waiting on God in silence.  “For God alone my soul waits in silence” (Psalm 62: 1, 5).  So if the reading of scripture, meditating on it, and praying in this open, available relaxed mode has been part of your blessing during the pandemic so far – may I encourage you to carve out time in your diary to continue it.

As a society, we have for a long time needed the opportunity to stop.  Those whose businesses have suffered and whose livelihoods have collapsed, or are on the brink of collapse, will not thank me for these words.  However, I observed on my return from sabbatical last year, that there was a stale driven-ness about so much our life in Britain.  This was in the wake of Brexit deadlines having been extended, but still not yielding a deal.  In my journal at the time I noted this and asked, ‘How are we to achieve a slowing down in order that we may work out our real priorities in life properly again?’ It seems that this opportunity to reflect has been given us and is still with us for a short time longer.

So, if we have learned through the hardship of this pandemic to be a more outward-looking, loving, caring and positively supportive community, how do we ensure this carries on?  Everybody needs love, warmth, friendship and acceptance.

I understand many are asking questions about the purpose of life, and what the future might hold should they die for any reason unexpectedly. How are those of us who have discovered the wonder of a relationship with God through Jesus, going to reach out to them and meet them at their point of need?  Such an opportunity may only come rarely.  Can all the increased use of internet be a new avenue for us to connect with more people in ways that they can access at any point during their week?

Perhaps you have your own reflections. Please email or write to me with them.  I would love to hear what you believe we should be learning through the experience of the pandemic, and what you personally have valued.  I would also be glad to receive anybody’s lamentation.  Do express what you have lost, what you fear, what has been hard for you.  I will bring it and     you before God in prayer.

With best wishes for a summer that still holds great opportunity,

Rev Charles.