Chapel Street Methodist Church
Penzance

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Minister's Letter, 28 April

From the Revd Alastair Bolt

Dear Friends,

Another week, and I feel that we may be entering a new phase. Early on in lock-down, there was a sense of crisis, the unknown threat, but also some novelty in adapting to new conditions. More recently we have settled to a kind of routine, the worst-case scenario has not yet materialised and may not, but we are feeling tied down by the limitations, and the routine is becoming boring. Now, however, there is a hint that in the next few weeks, the lock-down might be eased. The fact that this may take a long time and only happen gradually does not alter the fact that we are squinting forward. This is surprisingly disturbing. Although it will be a relief to move on out of this virus time, I am aware of lots of things waiting to be done in the wide world out there, and I’m not sure I’m ready for them yet!

Trust in Jesus cannot be a static faith, because what we are trusting Him for is always changing; novelty, fear, boredom, hope, limitation, freedom; these all present their own challenges to which Faith has different answers. Certainly, if we are going to be ready for the new normal which everyone is talking about, and which will just be the next phase of life, we need to be making good use of our time now. In particular, we need to be using time which would otherwise be packed out with the things we cannot now do. Rather than the adage, ‘Don’t just stand there, do something’, we might be thinking, ‘Don’t just do something, stand there’. Many of you will be used to working out your Christian discipleship in practical ways, like church maintenance, cleaning, doing the flowers, preparing the Communion, welcoming visitors, making coffee, making church music, preaching, and visiting. Before we simply find new ways of doing everything remotely or on-line or from the 2 m distancing of the garden gate, it is good to do some ‘Being still and knowing God’. It is good to wonder whether we benefit from not doing some of the things we do. We might reflect on whether our busyness masks a lack of inner stillness. Once we can be still with God and ourselves, then we can better take on new things, in new ways, with peaceful confidence.

Many of us are thinking now about how our church buildings are getting on without us! Although we miss our worship, church buildings can be a pain. I suspect our buildings are a little dusty and sometimes cold but otherwise untouched. In the longer term, they may leak and become dilapidated. We miss them, they don’t miss us! The church is the people of God, and not the building, and we need constant maintenance by the Holy Spirit to keep us in good shape.

Some time ago I read a commercial advert for a new type of garden wheelbarrow. Two main strengths were highlighted; first, it was indestructible, and second, it could be recycled!

We as the people of God are indestructible so long as we are ‘One in Christ’ but we also need to be remade, reformed, renewed for the new tasks and situations that lie ahead.

In a previous letter, I mentioned I was (unusually for me) reading the book of Judges. There is indeed some great stuff in there. There is also some ‘interesting’ stuff such as Judges chapter 19. It might take me a very long lock-down to get a sermon out of that, but 2 Timothy 3.16 is still true!

With my best wishes and blessings to you all for a good and safe week.

Alastair's signature

Published at 16:41 on 28 April 2020

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