Dear All. I received my official letter yesterday as a vulnerable person in this pandemic. having isolated for the last two months, that was not the most welcome of letters. So I need to keep shielded for the next three months from the receipt of letter 29th April. I still have 6 weeks of immunotherapy treatment starting next week. So you now know where I am for at least the next three months! A big thank you to all the messages of support. I have a major birthday on 2nd may (60!). I had hoped that we could have had a bit of a party in the parish, but that will need to wait till next year when I should have my joint 60/61 party!
Thank you for all that you are doing.
Leap of Faith
The spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, tells about a circus trapeze group in Germany called The Flying Rodleighs (from Henri Nouwen by Robert A. Jonas). He admired them for the way in which they could swing through the air. It was, he said, both a breath-taking and beautiful thing to behold. The flyer risked his life by taking massive leaps at a tremendous height. Nouwen got to know them and he asked them, "What is it like being a trapeze artist in the circus?"
The leader said, "I'll tell you the secret. I must have complete trust in my catcher. The public might think I'm the star - but the real star is my catcher." "How does that work?" Nouwen asked.
"The secret is that the flyer completely trusts the catcher. The worst thing the flyer can do is to try to catch the catcher. The flyer must trust with outstretched arms that the catcher will be there for him."
Today, we live by faith, often isolated from our community, our family, our friends and our church through the strict social distancing that the Covid-19 outbreak has imposed upon us. We see others, at a distance or through our brilliant social media. Yet, we cannot reach them to closely, we cannot as yet reach out and fly into their presence. But Henri Nouwen reminds us that our life and faith can have times of separation, not just in the chaos of a pandemic, but in the things of life. When we start school, we learn to separate from our parents and family. And learn to fly into the unknown of education and new friendships. In moving into our first homes we learn to let go of the familiar and reach out into unfamiliar territory, learning to cook (or order that take away!). Henri Nouwen is reminding us that the risks we take in life and also in faith are wort it. In searching for Jesus we are rewarded by the knowledge that Jesus is always there, ready to catch us as we launch out toward God. The Cross stands as the promise of eternal love and strength in this. For not even death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
The Cross is the symbol of hope
Nouwen writes: "The words of Jesus flashed through my mind as he said that. 'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.' It is trusting the catcher. Don't be afraid. Remember that you are the beloved child of God. He will be there when you make the long jump. Don't try to grab him; he will grab you. Just stretch out your arms and trust, trust, trust."
Easter is the gift of the Catcher if we trust to receive it. Trust then in God with outstretched arms.
Easter is a covenanted promise for life beyond death. The arms of Jesus are outstretched for each one of us.
Easter happens all around us. We need only look out onto our gardens or the surrounding area to see that life is in full flight. The birds call to us each morning to be eager to live out the day. The flowers and trees, which until so recently looked dead or dormant have sprung back into life and their blossom and blooms fill us with delight and hope of new life to come.
In so many unexpected gestures of caring, of love, of hope clear signs that love is stronger than death. Our NHS, our key workers, our shopkeepers and our great army of NHS volunteers has shown us that love will bring comfort and hope even in the darkest of times. Our Queen reminded us that whatever and whoever we hold dear is still there for us. That we will meet again, both in this life and the life to come. Her Majesty has seen our country brought to its knees during the Second World War and like many others was there to rebuild and renew when the time came. So, we are call at this Easter time, to renewal of hope and dedication to commit to building the new Jerusalem once more in our communities as the pandemic eventually passes, as it surely will, and we join together in faith hope and love for a renewed future for all.
May we place our trust in the one who conquered death and opened for us the way to everlasting life, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Alleluia, he is Risen indeed!
God bless you all, Revd Shane - Vicar
I want to firstly thank the many who have sent kind thoughts, cards and personal prayers for Michaela and myself as I go through a time of illness. It has been a challenging time, but one which has helped remind Michaela and I of how fortunate we have been to have been called to live with you all in Weston Green.
The world has been turned upside down in but a few short weeks and many now are in the process of self-isolating or preparing for that to come into effect. We have seen to sad decision to by the archbishops to ask us to stop holding public services in the week and on Sunday. This will be a sad loss and one which has not happened in our country since 1208ad. But it is what it is, and we are blessed ti have an abundance of social media and ways in which we can keep our spiritual lives and community functioning. So whilst we may be distant, distance is not a barrier to our fellowship.
I have asked our wonderful church Wardens to put up a list of resources onto the website to give us access to the rich field of spirituality on the internet. Not all will have access, but if you find a prayer, reading or spiritual thought that strikes you as being helpful, you might share that by printing it and sending to those less computer literate, or even phoning and sharing the prayer with family and friends. I am learning day by day of how new technology works and hope to have a talk or two on the web page in the coming weeks.
When we look out onto our world, we see signs all around of new beginings. Lent is about walking toward a new beginning and our journey in these dark times is also a journey. We need not walk this journey alone, we can connect to worship lead locally online right up to the Archbishop of Canterbury live streaming his Sunday worship. The journey is different, the pathway, at times uncertain. But we do not walk this alone. I assure you all of our prayers from the family of All Saints Weston. I conclude with a spiritual poem that has helped me through those dark nights of the soul.
God bless you, Revd Shane Wood
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You'd walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."