Chapel Street Methodist Church
Penzance

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Minister's Letter, 18 November

From the Revd Alastair Bolt

Dear Friends,

I trust you are carrying on carrying on this week. I think it is good at this time to be continually mindful of all those we know who are unwell in a non-virus way, but whose treatment has been disrupted and slowed by the NHS having to concentrate on treating virus patients. This adds one stress on top of another, and they need our special prayers.

Possibly the key characteristic of the present crisis is the feeling that we have come across a situation which we cannot control. For modern, advanced societies, control is at the root of their stability and self-confidence. However much we distrust politicians and complain about how things are run, we still expect that when something goes seriously wrong, someone will have the resources to sort it out. When people are at risk of drowning in a flood, we expect a helicopter to be sent. When there is a power cut we know that someone somewhere is hard at work fixing it. Yet at this moment, we are not so sure whether the State or the scientific community can grip this crisis. They probably will, but we cannot be sure. It is one thing to be in a road accident and worry about how long the ambulance will take to come, but another thing entirely to fear there may be no ambulance at all.

Down on the seafront at Penzance, the Council have spent many months, (probably too many months), and a great deal of money (probably too much money), beautifying the promenade. Everything is now reaching completion, with a new, textured concrete surface adorned with inset artwork and large, polished ovoid stones dotted artistically around for us to sit on. It is all ‘just so’, clean, new and designed. But then last week we had a storm and parts of the prom are covered in piles of seaweed; dark, brown and smelly. That’s what the sea does, and it is completely outside of our control. We need to understand our limitations, a good lesson in these times, a lesson not only from the natural world which puts us in our place, but also from the Creator of that world. God has the resources, He always copes. We can be certain of Him but only Him.

Yet in spite of this truth, despair does creep in from time to time. Some so-called experts find easy headlines with their doomsday scenarios that ‘things will never be the same again’. Out the back of my house in the public park, one of the large trees just disappeared last week, presumably cut down by the ‘tree people’. There is an irretrievable loss, a big gap like the scene has lost a tooth. That tree will never be the same again. Meanwhile, the other trees are also having a hard time. Losing the remains of their autumn leaves, they are windswept, bedraggled, bare and dead-looking. But unlike the tree cut down, their buds will swell and the new leaves, fresh green will burst forth. They will be back, and with God’s grace, so will we.

Warm regards to you all,

Alastair's signature

Published at 14:35 on 18 November 2020

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