A Message from the Wardens – 10th April 2020

Dear Friends,

In his letter this week the Bishop included a link to the Mind and Soul Foundation website, which seems to capture the mood of many of us at the moment:

Eric Liddell wrote "Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out his wonderful plan of love.”

This isn’t the time for triumphalism or for simplistic anecdotes. Equally, it's not the moment to close our eyes to the ways in which we are being reformed in vulnerability, humility, gratitude, compassion, and community. This is the time to trust in God’s ability to bring life out of death; the precise means through which we have relationship with him at all. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:13, ‘These three remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.” My prayer is that when we are finally through this calamity, our collective reformation with remain and that it will inform our personal and national life for years to come.
As Holy week progresses, we are reminded of the ultimate expression of love, made for all by Jesus on Good Friday and how that “calamity” gave rise to the glorious resurrection and bought for us eternal life. When we become worried and afraid for what the future might hold for us this reminds us that the love of God is our most treasured gift and one that will never lose value or be taken away from us.
On 9th April, Monica Rorison will celebrate her 90th birthday. Perhaps not the way she might have hoped to celebrate this milestone but we send our love and best wishes and hope that she will be able to celebrate with her family before too long.

Gay has sent us links to an amusing video of daughter’s famous dog Wilma. For those of you who don’t know, Gay’s daughter Christina trains dogs and Wilma the Basset Hound has appeared on TV advertisements.

Wilma is also well known to the church family in Rayleigh where Christina’s husband David is Rector, having appeared at the beginning and end of the last Sunday service via the internet. If you would like to watch the clip it can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMMXF1gg4-M&list=PLCtuothLTEM20HHK3EESvQjGjM9aej5CF.

Gill Holding shared a lovely story with Angela today when she spoke on the phone. Gill is happy for us to share this with you. 

Gill’s son set off for a walk with his dog in the Yorkshire Wolds (where he lives). He decided to FaceTime his mum, reversed his phone and they were able to walk and talk together. Gill said it was lovely to see the beautiful scenery, the dog, the wild flowers and to spend some time with her son, who has recovered from COVID-19.

Please do continue to send us your news of hope and encouragement so that we can share this with one another. We have another quiz for you for this week. 

Daily meditations for Lent can be found on the church website.

We have been greatly encouraged by the number of people who have begun to offer their help and expertise for the benefit of others.

We have had several requests for help this week from relatives living away from their families in the area. At a time when the wider community is reaching out to the church it is good that there are so many church and community groups and neighbourhood schemes that can come to their aid.

We were also contacted by a lady called Kate Wall who is hoping to set up a “meal train” service. The idea is that people who are in need of a home cooked meal can make contact and a volunteer will deliver a cooked meal at an agreed time to the doorstep. The website has more information. https://www.mealtrain.com/.

At this stage the scheme is in the planning stage, there being many safeguards that need to be put into place first. The PCC have agreed to make a donation towards the cost of the food and to publicise the service both for those who might want to take up the offer of the meal and those who might like to cook and or deliver meals. Please do mention this to friends and neighbours who might want to use this service or help out. If you want to get in touch with Kate to find out more her e -mail address is kate-wall@hotmail.co.uk

These words of comfort and encouragement come from Tuesdays UCB notes:

This is a truly painful season for many, and the hope we place in God and His Word does not deny how difficult things can be. God’s Word doesn’t deny struggle, but it puts struggle in perspective.

Many of the greatest characters in the Bible faced struggles that seemed impossible. In Exodus 3, when God told Moses that he would be tasked with helping Israel escape slavery in Egypt, Moses was afraid. He told God that he wasn’t strong enough.

But God’s response? Verse 12: “I will be with you.”

God didn’t promise that it would be an easy journey for Moses (and it wasn’t). But He DID promise to stay by Moses’ side. And through all of the struggles to free his people, Moses was able to accomplish an impossible task, not by his own strength but because He had the support of the Almighty.

So just remember, it’s okay to feel tired, frightened, sad, or inadequate. It’s okay to feel like you can’t do it on your own. Because even Moses was afraid. But what we can’t do, God CAN do. And He promises to stand by us in our struggles.

Rest easy knowing that the promise that God made to Moses, He has also made to you. When you feel weak, just remember God’s words: “I will be with you.”

As we come to celebrate Easter, it will feel strange not to be together, yet all over the world our brothers and sisters in Christ will also be celebrating Easter differently this year.

We are united in our prayers for each other and for the world. We have added some prayers from the Church of England at the end of this newsletter.

We hope that you will be able to join our worship on Sunday, online on our website (AST Virtual Church). If you cannot be there at 10am the service will still be on the website after this time.

This Easter our celebrations will be unlike any we have known before (and hopefully unlike any we will know again) but the reason for our celebration has not changed nor will it. As you celebrate the Risen Jesus may you be blessed and strengthened by His love.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

With Love
Angela and Liz

Prayers about the outbreak

Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour,
and to care for those in need
as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength
to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick,
and to assure the isolated
of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake.

Merciful God,
we entrust to your tender care
those who are ill or in pain,
knowing that whenever danger threatens
your everlasting arms are there to hold them safe.
Comfort and heal them,
and restore them to health and strength;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gracious God,
give skill, sympathy and resilience
to all who are caring for the sick,
and your wisdom to those searching for a cure.
Strengthen them with your Spirit,
that through their work many will be restored to health;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

O God,
help me to trust you,
help me to know that you are with me,
help me to believe that nothing can separate me
from your love
revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.