Chapel Street Methodist Church
Penzance

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Minister's Letter, 11 February

From the Revd Alastair Bolt

Dear Friends,

Last year it was somewhat of a novelty to start writing weekly letters to you all. Now it is quite normal, and perhaps when churches open up and we can again meet in person, there may remain a place for communicating on-line. When the normal ways of being Church can restart, newer ways will add continuing richness and variety. This last week, I preached a sermon 5 times in a whole mix of media.

  1. Running through it to myself,
  2. On Dictaphone as a standby for the web-site,
  3. YouTube on Saturday,
  4. Zoom on Sunday morning and
  5. Live at High Street on Sunday afternoon.

Many are the ways the Word can be spoken.

The roadworks at Newlyn have been progressing and given me much food for thought as I have run past them, untroubled by the red lights! After much digging of holes in the road, the work was completed and the road surface was restored. However, the company dealing with the temporary lights had not returned to remove them. Thus, the delays were now being caused by the lights themselves, warning of a danger that was no longer there. I thought that is so like us being troubled by guilt, when we have genuinely asked for the Lord to forgive us a particular sin. This ‘false guilt’ as it is called, is still an obstacle to us moving on in life, even after Jesus has removed the real obstacle of our sins. He has dug down deep into us and sorted the real problem. False guilt is commonly caused by an ‘imprint’ of our past sins left in our minds, a habit of feeling guilty which was useful before but is superfluous now. Seek healing (not forgiveness) from this and ask for the Assurance of sins forgiven, as Wesley termed it. Then move on, and you will find that the road has indeed been mended!

Wading through some of the deeper recesses of my computer systems I came across a hopeful little function called Minor bug fixes. I immediately thought of blackfly and aphids which just shows I am really an off-line person!

A fair amount has been said about why God has let the pandemic happen if He is all-powerful and whether He has sent it to punish us or teach us something. It looks more complicated than it needs to. There are two main issues.

  • Firstly, remember we live in a fallen creation, (Gen 3:17 ff). TV nature programmes give the impression of a wonderfully harmonious natural world marred only by humans. Actually, the world is a jungle where everything is voraciously competing, animals eating other animals, plants strangling other plants and denying them light, insects attacking everything. We have nature ‘red in tooth and claw’. It will continue like this until God has finished with sorting us out (Rom 8:20-21). So, viruses happen naturally, they have their own agenda of flourishing by attacking other organisms like us.
  • Secondly, we are partly responsible. Our sin has made us an easy target for the virus. Environmental destruction squeezing animals who live with the bugs into contact with humans, oriental superstitions about certain types of food, poor hygiene in underdeveloped markets, political dishonesty and jealousy, human self-centredness, short-sightedness and greed, all make society vulnerable to aggressive bugs.

In the short term, humankind needs to live by God’s guiding principles as laid out in the Bible and care for the natural world properly. Then the bugs will be kept in check. In the longer term, the church needs to get on with mission to billions of unbelievers so that the time will come when the lion can lie down with the lamb, (Is 11:7 ff), and we can live at peace with the bugs.

Meanwhile, stay safe and know God’s blessing on you.

Alastair's signature

Published at 15:58 on 11 February 2021

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