I’m not sure what to do with myself at the moment. Whilst others are either back in church or planning for September our situations at both churches mean that we won’t be making those plans until at least September. In addition, whilst many are meeting up with more and more people, I’m still being careful, Chris has been at school and I have regularly been at Ansty Road mixing with the builders, where there is some social distancing, but sometimes it can be a bit lax. So I’m wary of mixing with others too widely.
We would normally mark this time of year with a general invitation to our Garden for afternoon tea. But the rules on such things are awkward, so we will look at how we might be able to do that – but I know from other conversations that many of you are also uncertain, so please forgive us if that also proves too hard to do. I do hope however that Chris and I can manage some day trips somewhere. We are also still planning a holiday at the end of August, but the festivals we go to have all been cancelled, so even the summer doesn’t give us treats to look forward to.
Which all sounds very down beat. Below, I share a blessing and write about the blessings that God promises. However down beat I’m feeling, I do know that I have been blessed in the life I have been able to live, the people around me and the work God has called me to. I do know the many privileges that my life gives me, so I won’t be grumbling for too long – sometimes we just need to have a moment!
The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious unto you.
Morning glory, starlit sky
sorting music, scholars truth,
flight of swallows, autumn leaves,
memory’s treasure, grace of youth.
open are the gifts of God
gifts of love to mind and sense
hidden is love’s agony
love’s endeavour, love’s expense.
Bible Genesis 28:10-22.
Reflection The lectionary has jumped forward, so you might also like to read Genesis 27:1 – 28:9. We focus on Jacob, alone and afraid. Some might say it is his own fault. He has broken trust with his father and brother, he has refused to engage with the wider community, his trickiness has found him out and he is banished. It is now, at this low point, that he begins to be aware of God’s presence with him. Not just God, but the angels are coming to him, opening up the space between heaven and earth, finding Jacob in despair and preparing him to hear God’s word.
When God speaks, it is with three important messages.
I am with you.
I will keep you.
You will be a blessing.
I am with you, will become the promise of Jesus – Emmanuel, God with us; the last word in Matthew’s gospel, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” I will keep you, will be a recurrent theme, The Lord bless you and keep you (Num 6:24-26). You will be a blessing – will be the good news that Jesus proclaims, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:1-10).
On Tuesday I was at two conferences. The first asked, “Do black lives matter in the URC?” The second reflected on a URC visit to Palestine in 2019. In both, I was left reflecting on the way we are cursed by human conflict and our need to dominate one another leaves everyone brutalised and frightened. Jacob still has much wrestling to do, but he does so knowing that God is with him, keeps him and blesses him and his descendants. May we also know that for ourselves.
May you know God’s presence always with you
May you know God’s protection keeping you safe
May you know God’s promise blessing your days.
Therefore he who shows us God
helpless hangs upon the tree;
and the nails and crown of thorns
tell us what God’s love must be.
Here is God, no monarch he.
throned in easy state to reign
here is God, whose arms of love
aching, spent, the world sustain
W H Vanstone (1923-99)