Chapel Street Methodist Church
Penzance

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Minister's Letter, 3 March

From the Revd Alastair Bolt

Dear Friends,

What a difference a few days of sunshine makes. Clear skies make the days seem longer, stretching out the evenings and bringing us welcome light as we wake up. The plants that have been struggling up through the mud are now showing us that they have been preparing themselves to burst out. The birds are singing more in joy than in hope!

It is always good to find that the daylight is replacing our electric lighting at home. After all those dark nights when our lights seemed so welcoming and bright, the sun bursting through the windows completely overwhelms any artificial lights that are accidentally left on. Not only is it brighter, but daylight shows the true colour of things. I have been looking at various shades of paint recently, and under artificial light they either look muddy, or all the same, or contrast in a way completely different to the tones revealed by the light of day. The sun is one of God’s great creations, rising each day with enthusiasm as the Psalmist says in Psalm 19. Jesus picks up the light of His creation as a picture of Himself, “I am the light of the world”; light to brighten our day, to warm our hearts and to reveal the truth to us.

This week I unexpectedly came upon a sign on a private road which says simply: ‘Caution, children playing’. It seemed a strange thing to say. Presumably I should take care with my driving. We adults produce an environment where children playing might be at risk from us needing to rush around in our cars. But caution doesn’t seem a word to link with children playing. Playing is what children ought to do, it is a joyous thought, full of exuberance and spontaneity, but not caution. Perhaps, on reflection it is I who needs to be cautious of children playing. They may remind me of fun, and laughter, imagination, enthusiasm, and of not having to rush off somewhere to do something significant. It may be true, as someone has said, that we were born knowing everything and spend our lives forgetting it. In these challenging times we don’t just need exercise and food and vaccine, we need to regain our ability to play.

Last week, out walking and reading the map at the same time, I tripped over and fell heavily, bruising my left arm. It now looks as though I have cracked a bone in my elbow which makes itself evident from time to time in the most excruciating pain. So it was that on Sunday afternoon I was sitting waiting in West Cornwall Hospital. I don’t mind hospitals when I’m not seriously ill, and waiting is a chance to sit down. Because of the virus there are no Country Life magazines to read but as always there are plenty of signs on the walls. Actually, the walls are mostly signs! Apart from signs prohibiting everything, and warning of things I hadn’t thought of doing, and signs encouraging me to detect the first symptoms of something I don’t think I’ve got, there was a useful poster for people with hearing difficulties. There were six clear ways that the hospital could help, some quite simple, some more complex, but all very useful. It seemed that a lot of effort and thought had gone into making sure that people could hear what a doctor or nurse was saying to them; making their treatment accessible. Frequently Jesus talks about people with ears needing to hear the Gospel and with His parables He made the message accessible to people unused to listening well. In our churches we may have deaf loops, but how much effort do we put in to make sure that people who are not clinically hard of hearing can ‘hear’ the good news? Will we say it in short words without jargon, understandably? Will we have clear written literature or informed people ready to explain the Bible in ways people can really hear? The general public are not ‘hearing’ the Gospel anymore and simply turning up the volume will not be enough. (Rom 10.14).

With best wishes to you all,

Alastair's signature

Published at 14:43 on 3 March 2021

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