Chapel Street Methodist Church
Penzance

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Minister's Letter, 14 July

From the Revd Alastair Bolt

Dear Friends,

After a two-week gap, hello again!

I wonder how things are for you, and if I asked you I expect I should get lots of very differing answers. For many of us, ‘re-entry’ is progressing, for some of you too quickly, for others, too slowly. For some of you lock-down continues and I wonder if you are getting more used to it or more frustrated by it. It seems to me that what I must avoid saying in a letter like this is “I’m sure we all think . . .”. Actually, I’m not sure what I think, but that’s normal for ministers writing church letters!

On the day of Pentecost thousands of varied people from many nations all heard the good news of Jesus in their own language. The Holy Spirit could speak to a vast array of people, all with their own cultures, history and agendas, with precisely the good news they each needed to hear. It was the same news, but it sounded as if it were tailored to each of those diverse individuals. This week, although I cannot generalise about things when talking to you all, Jesus is perfectly capable of telling you what you need to hear which is, at one and the same time, the same and yet different for each of us.

My grandchildren in Nottingham have two new guinea pigs. A possible catastrophe looms. Enquiring of the pigs, my daughter told me they were more outgoing than previous specimens. I’m working on the idea of an outgoing guinea pig. We certainly lost one of ours in the garden shrubbery in Germany!

I am interested in the way that the benefits of lock-down are being lost as the benefits of re-entry kick in. This is in part because we simply cannot have the benefits of both all at once. It was great to have silence, no pollution and hear the birds singing. But people want to travel to see the world beyond their walking limit, then they pollute, make noise and drown the birdsong. It is ironic that the Cornish countryside was at its most beautiful when no-one could visit it. We cannot all have a private Eden. The nation cannot permanently benefit from a more leisurely pace whilst at the same time it is going bankrupt, but earning a living reintroduces business and stress. Whilst some of these things are impossible to retain through re-entry, other things may be lost through carelessness, which need not be so. We shall have to work hard at our new-found neighbourliness and the time we give one another on the Internet. Families who have rediscovered the value of sitting down for meals together are easily scattered as their personal timetables fill up again. For the Christian, this means that when some of the enforced benefits are removed we must continue by deciding to live well. And when we try, we shall find that the goodness of human nature has severe limits. We are not naturally nice for long. We live in a fallen world. It is through the grace of God, the power of the Holy Spirit that we become men and women who are above ourselves, for whom Eden cannot be private, but through whom it may be regained.

We have made an encouraging start with Church worship in Chapel Street, High Street, Wesley Rock and Madron. With the music and the words, we miss singing, but at least we miss it together! We are experimenting with humming . . .

Warm regards to you all,

Alastair's signature

Published at 15:24 on 14 July 2020

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