As I’m writing this I’ve been curate to the benefice for all of 14 days and yet it feels longer! I’m not sure whether that’s because there is so much activity – with Remembrance around the corner and Christmas not too far behind. Or maybe I feel like I’ve been here longer because of people’s kindness. I’ve worshipped and prayed and been invited to three virtual assemblies, and I’ve met people for lunch and had phone conversations with others. I’ve met some people from our communities and I’m excited for future interactions, when Covid-19 allows. I want to thank you for your kindness and your welcome.
Kindness is not just a nicety! It is very much needed in times of pulling together, particularly now as we are navigating our way in this global pandemic. Our current situation is difficult. It’s not as easy as it used to be to meet up with family and friends. Nor is it as straight forward to gather in larger groups without much risk assessment and care. At the same time, and possibly because of our restrictions, we are recognising in a fresh way our dependence upon one another for our wellbeing and our flourishing. On top of all of this uncertainty over jobs as we exit furlough and the continued uncertainty of will there/won’t there be a vaccine can leave us open to feelings of anxiety and tiredness.
What do we do? How should we respond? Does the Bible give us any wisdom for moments such as these?
Writing to some stressed and fearful Christians in Philippi Paul encourages them to stay connected and to be gentle with one another. He urges them to act with humility, looking to the interests of others and being kind. They were to follow Jesus’ pattern of entering into places of pain and suffering with God’s transforming love.
So, likewise if we can be of use to one another, let us help out, or if we can put down ways that are unkind, better to deal with one another gently, being mindful of how fragile we all might be feeling. Then, we will be able to disagree well and make joint decisions based on Jesus’ model of acting out of love.
These are perhaps obvious responses, but Paul starts his letter by mentioning thanksgiving and prayer as sure ways of being sustained and finding a deep-seated peace. Let me reassure you that the church is here to serve anyone who would like to explore faith through prayer and thanksgiving. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with myself, or our churchwardens. I am always happy to offer the kindness of chatting to you about God’s love, which in my experience is life giving, upholding and protecting.
So in these next few months, go gently with one another and yourself! Then we will do what small towns and villages can do really well … we will show true kindness in our community and this will help us go forward.