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For 17 May 2020

As we come to our 9th Sunday without being able to meet in the churches, I have found myself in a new routine that now works towards having these letters prepared to catch the last post on a Thursday. Sadly, last week I didn’t factor in the bank holiday and so I believe that for many of you the posted version arrived on Monday morning. I hope you still found the reflections useful, if a touch late to be used on Sunday morning.

Life has shifted online, meetings (work and social) using Zoom – a video conferencing platform that has done very well out of this pandemic. Join us for a Bible study 7pm on Tuesday https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4043156568 

My brother and our cousin are spending the time going through old family photographs and posting them on Facebook. We are currently looking at photographs from the mid-1920’s and trying to work out who is who. I must admit it’s sometimes a distraction when I’m supposed to be working, but also a lovely way to remember our grandparents and their cousins & siblings enjoying life as young people. But also that some of these relationships were complicated – who is that man with Aunt Jeanie?

In our Podcast this week, (chat through some ideas on Tuesday, write on a Wednesday, record on Thursday) Kirsty and I are thinking about the Spirit of Truth that Jesus promises to send to advocate for us, and the way truth can appear different from another perspective. That can make life complicated but if we are to welcome people into our lives, then we also need to love them for who they are, and the truth of their life.

As to returning to church, we will be cautious. The government advice suggests that we will not be able to do so until at least the beginning of July. We also have a document from the URC that the Elders will need to work our way through. The big issue is how we keep one another safe, and how we clean up after every use of the building. This will be less complicated at Ansty Road by the commencement of the building works on 25 May, which will mean that the building can not be accessed during the week and so the only thing we need to judge is whether we feel it is safe to return on a Sunday and whether we wish to do so if we still need to maintain social distancing and perhaps not sing. At St. Columba’s, we will need to work out the way each group can return to using the building, and whether we also wish to return on a Sunday morning when so many of the congregation will remain in the vulnerable category. When you speak with Elders it may be something that you wish to discuss to help us in our deliberations. 

But one thing that we can continue to do wherever we are is to pray. Earlier in the year churches across the city began planning to prayer walk every street in the city during the month of June. We did not realise how well timed that would be – but God did. Next week I will be able to share some plans.

 

Sunday 17 May  Fifth Sunday after Easter

Prayer Risen Jesus, through our interactions may we recognise someone else’s truth and learn from them.

Hymn

And art thou come with us to dwell

our prince, our guide, our love, our Lord?

And is thy name Immanuel,

God present with his world restored?

 

The heart is glad for thee, it knows

none now shall bid it err or mourn,

and o’er its desert breaks the rose

in triumph o’er the grieving thorn.

Bible John 14:15-21

Reflection “If you love me …” says Jesus and I wonder how conditional our love is. Must we prove our love by our behaviour or do we only love those who love us? Can we love those who are very different from ourselves or can we only draw close to those with whom we have a connection? 

In looking at old family photographs with my cousins we are looking at the young faces of our grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles – we are sharing family stories, but aware that each family will have a slightly different version passed down. Sometimes that story wasn’t told in that family. We are talking about people we love – but we know that sometimes the relationships were difficult. At my Grandpa’s funeral I described him as cantankerous – because most of us had fallen out with him at some point or been at the sharp end of his temper. But my Australian cousins never heard a bad word said about him – he was far enough away to be a friendly letter or photograph. Which was the truth? Well for each of us, something a little bit different because our relationship was different. But, he loved us and we loved him – sometimes that was why his tongue was so sharp! 

Jesus promises to be revealed to those who love him, perhaps it is only when we love one another that the real complexity of a person is known, the public face is put away and we welcome another’s truth.

Prayer Loving God, may we see you in the lives of all who seek to dwell in peace and love. May we see you in the welcome we give to one another. May we see you and know you as you sanctify each precious, holy life.

Hymn

Thy reign eternal will not cease;

thy years are sure and glad, and slow

within thy mighty world of peace

the humblest flower hath leave to blow.

 

The world is glad for thee; the heart

is glad for thee, and all is well

and fixed, and sure, because thou art,

whose name is called Immanuel.

Dora Greenwell (1821-1882)

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