A Letter to our Church from Ian (on 23rd March)
“One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”
Matthew 4 v.4
For nearly three weeks now, the Holy Spirit has been prompting me repeatedly back to this verse, the first response of Jesus to the devil’s tempting of Him in the wilderness. As those “in Christ” we know there is no sacred/secular divide. Everything is spiritual.
My responsibility is to lead you to God in worship and prayer and to live a holy life in these days of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. As I’ve watched from afar, I’ve seen how this virus not only attacks us physically. It also affects the condition of our hearts and minds.
As I’ve watched from afar, I’ve seen how this virus not only attacks us physically. It affects the condition of our hearts and minds.
This is not a time to be fearful or anxious because we worship our heavenly Father, “whose perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4 v.18). It’s a time to be “faithful in the One who does not let us down” (1 Thessalonians 5 v.24).
This is a virus which also attacks at the heart of the foundations of how we be Church and live out the Christian faith, and causes us to rethink everything we knew. We have been forced into a wilderness and we have seen the response of many which has been to “live by bread alone.” We are called to be different.
To this end, I’d like to outline three ways we can be Church in these times. Over recent years, I’ve been trying to speak about the values of a Church focused upon:
Even though the world we now live in has changed drastically, these values still provide a helpful way we can respond and be Church together. I’d also suggest gently this is a time to sign up to all 3, rather than our preferences, and I’ll include ways you can participate throughout this letter.
“Persevere in prayer”
Romans 12 v.12
Prayer reflects our love for God. Let me suggest three ways we can act:
- Whenever we wash our hands, pray the Lord’s Prayer, as recommended by the Archbishops’ of Canterbury and York.
- Sign up to pray for either 15 minutes or one hour every day, specifically in response to the Coronavirus. It would be helpful if you could reply by return to this letter by email to say which option of how long you will pray and what time of the day, and we will supply you with helpful guides to pray.
- Uphold in prayer those from our church community, who find themselves in the forefront of managing or responding this pandemic, including Richard Renouf, our Health Minister, and our two GP’s, Penny Egerton and Lisa Clynes. They are facing the daily burden and mental strain of being at the front line addressing issues and problems this virus causes. They need our prayers and encouragement.
“Let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith”
Galatians 6 v.10
Care reflects our love for one another. As you may remember from our ‘paraclesis’ teaching series in 2018, it is the responsibility of all to care. Let me suggest three ways we can act:
- There will be times of immediate need or “crisis” moments, when we will need to act swiftly. If you’re able to help practically and it is safe, please email the Church Office. It may be someone may need some shopping or by providing a meal. One immediate need is we need some volunteers who are willing to drive and drop off some time on Saturday flowers which had already been delivered to the Parish Church for Mothering Sunday. We will ask you to drop a card through their letterbox and leave the flowers on their doorstep. If you are able to help, please email the Church Office.
- Social distancing is about spatial distancing (which are the words I prefer to use.) It doesn’t mean we can’t be connected socially. A Church is built on relationships.
- We could all keep in contact by telephone either daily or every other day with 2 or 3 others in our Church. Many vulnerable and older people in our Church have been asked to self-isolate. Many have been told to be socially distant or work from home. Many don’t operate in the social media world. If you would be willing to help in phoning church members, please ring me at the Rectory.
- If you hear of someone in need in our Church whether spiritually, financially or practically, please ring me at the Rectory. Don’t assume I will know all that is going on!
“For the love of Christ urges us on”
2 Corinthians 5 v.14
Love reflects our love for the world. We are called to be people who are joyful in hope. The reason for our hope is Jesus’ death and resurrection. Let me suggest three ways we can act:
- Be courageous in your witness and take the opportunities the Holy Spirit will give you through this time to share about God’s love for all of us.
- Practice generosity and hopefulness to those who you will encounter.
- As the Rector of St Ouen, I am here to serve all in the Parish. Therefore, if you know of any St Ouen Parishioners struggling in any way because of the Coronavirus, please do get in touch with me.
Finally, some practicalities and an observation:
- The Parish Church will remain open for prayer from 7:30am each morning. We are looking at whether we can keep the building open until 7:30pm in the evening for those who work, and if you might be willing to lock-up at this later time, please reply by return to this letter by email.
- St George’s Church will remain closed.
- From today, the Church Office will be closed and Kate will be working from home. Emails will be monitored daily. For a more immediate response, please phone the Rectory.
This is a period where many of us will have more time available to us. We have a choice how we fill this time. Can I suggest it is a very good moment to use this wisely by prioritising reading our Bible. It could well be a huge growth time for us spiritually, and I’ll be in touch in the near future about what might be helpful.
Of course this virus stops us physically from meeting together, which is at the heart of the Christian faith. As I have only returned to the Island on Wednesday evening, we’re not at the stage to outline how we move forward in terms of online services and groups, but we will do something, and further details will follow, probably over the weekend. In the meantime there are four years of sermons on this website! I will also send something early next week to parents in our church now schools will be closed.
I close with the words from the first letter of Peter to a church then living in anxious times:
“Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you”
1 Peter 5 v.7
If you are struggling in any way with the circumstances we find ourselves, please do not believe the lie, “I will be too busy to help” or “your concern will be too small.”
If you are part of our Church, you are my concern.
with love and every blessing