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Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus You brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will, that we may find all things restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
by Father Clive
Well we appear to have come to some relaxation of the lockdown and many people I have spoken to are rather dubious about it. With pictures of people flocking to the beaches, attending raves and demonstrations as well as celebrating a football success there is a real fear of a second spike in Covid19 cases. This has certainly been seen in parts of Europe and in certain countries the situation is bad. Yet the government has decided that they still trust in the common sense of the British people although with what we have seen over the past weeks I have my doubts. Even when shopping, which I have started to do, I still see so many people without masks. I have been very fortunate with having wonderful neighbours and for twelve weeks one did all my shopping because she is a health worker.
The self isolating was necessary because of age and medical problems and like so many I saw also the vast number of people who have taken this situation seriously and I believe that local communities have seen a coming together with so many helping others. In fact despite the actions of the idiots mentioned above the overwhelming majority have followed the guidelines but it is those who are selfish and thoughtless and ignorant who have and may still cause the problem.
I have said all the way along ‘we’ll meet again’ and so we shall but without some of those we have known and loved. Under the leadership of Mother Katie a group of people have kept in contact with others within our congregation who self isolate or finding it hard because they live on their own etc. Generally those I have phoned have managed well but we have all missed the physical interaction with family, friends and fellow members of our Church and clubs. It may be some time before we return to real normality but with common sense we will.
On Friday (in following Common Worship lectionary) it was the festival of St. Thomas the Apostle. He is always remembered as the disciple who first doubted the resurrection of Our Lord saying that unless he could put his hands into the wounds of Christ he would not believe. Many of us have similar thoughts when it comes to various situations and in the present circumstances some people are allowing doubts to enter into their understanding of their faith. ‘Until I see God intervene I shall not believe’ or at least question more! It is a common human weakness to expect God to intervene exactly as we want and when we want it. Of course he can and does at times in our lives but we cannot just turn Him on and off when it suits. Faith is about trust in what we have learnt and what we share and deep down what we have received and yet those doubts often remain. God understands that. He understood it with Thomas and He understands it with us and although we may not have such a physical confirmation of His love we will have a spiritual, inner, masterly confirmation because of what we have received from him in our lives….faith. Faith does not mean that we never have doubts or questions but it does mean that it should and hopefully for all will overcome those doubts. Our Lord says….’only believe….’ allow the strength of our inner faith to conquer those doubts….not easy but with prayer, communion with God, and if necessary talk with a fellow member of the Church we can retain our trust that in the end we will come through and once again rejoice as a community of love. I have lost two dear friends during this period…..and yes I questioned……but neither died of Covid19 and I realised that what they gave to this world and my life was God given and they would have passed anyway without Covid19……and that taught me again that this ‘plague’ has brought up some real tragedies of people who would not have died but for this plague but that life is as it has always been throughout history that plagues, wars, ethnic hatred and violence have always existed and despite what we may hope for probably will simply because of the nature of so many human beings. To me only faith can defeat that if not on a global scale but certainly on an individual one and in today’s western world it seems that faith is on the decline because of people’s greed and desire for a ‘I want everything’ lifestyle.
I am, at times, amazed that our Heavenly Father has not given up on us….but then again I know that he won’t…..the whole history of the Old Testament tells us that……and even when He sent his son people’s greed and desire saw Him crucified. But in the resurrection, the same resurrection that Thomas first doubted, God established the faith that gives hope to all…. a faith that has transformed our lives and the lives of so many…. and knowing that we must not allow the seeds of doubt arise again in our hearts and minds.
Unfortunately in today’s world we expect everything to rush past…. well perhaps now we will learn that despite all the progress that we have made in technology etc. does not make us immune from what humans have actually caused over the millennia and unless we do something we may actually destroy the world.
You know God does act in incredible ways. On a personal note when planning this sermon I opened my New Testament to look at Romans Chapter 7 but my eyes were drawn immediately to chapter 8 verses 31 to the end. If you read that it is so powerful that it should dispel all doubts for it shows clearly our place in the world. The gift we have is a most treasured gift.
Nothing but our own doubts can separate us from the love of God.
May we all have the strength to allow our faith to reassure us in this very difficult and for so many sad time and know ‘that nothing can separate us from His love and care’.
May God Bless us all and we will meet again as a family of St. James in the near future but remember that we all meet again daily in our thoughts and prayers and from that we gain tremendous strength to overcome doubt and fear.