Updates from Fr Martin

Dear Friends,

The lockdown continues, and yet as I write there are more glimmers of hope that there is a further relaxation of the current rules. Non-essential shops are now opening, churches are able to open for private prayer; we are doing all that we can to make sure that our wonderful sacred space at Holy Trinity is available for private prayer and contemplation. However, as I write, the church is not currently open for regular worship or gatherings, but we will continue to make our services available online.

In the previous two editions of Bosham Life, I suggested that we might want to listen to that ‘still small voice’ and also put our faith in God, in the midst of fear. Faced with any challenge like that of coronavirus—we might find ourselves, as we pray, asking the very real question: ‘why?’

The theologian Tom Wright suggests in his book ‘God and the Pandemic’, amongst other things, that perhaps the question we should be asking is ‘what’? For at the heart of the Christian faith, and its message, is the simple fact that God, in the person of Jesus, wants to work with humanity in the transformation of His creation; He wants to work with us to bring about heaven on earth. After all, we pray ‘thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven’.

Heaven is not just some future reality, given that sadly, so many live impoverished lives, which could at best, be described as hell on earth. This question of what—in essence—how we respond, is biblical and one which is seen, for example, in the selfless service of so many on the frontline of this battle, some of whom have paid the ultimate price in seeking to help others.

In the midst of all of this we must not be distracted by those voices who have taken to social media to preach a notion of ‘Corona-Armageddon’ or to suggest that this is ‘God’s final call to repentance’ or even, as some have suggested, that Christians are somehow shielded from this current reality. Personally, I find little hope in such statements, especially when so many continue to die.

Tom Wright suggests that we are in a time of lament—it’s OK to ‘state our case and leave it with God’. Yes, we can complain and perhaps we may not even find the words to pray… I found this notion particularly helpful as I recall standing alone, earlier this week in church, celebrating the Holy Communion; I had an overwhelming sense of you all on my heart, but then struggled to find the words… We must remember that the call to repentance and the coming of God’s kingdom on earth will not be brought about by earthquakes, famines, or even coronavirus, but as Wright suggests, through the person of Jesus, who wants us to work with Him to redeem the world. Responding to the ‘what?’ rather than the ‘why?’ will, by God’s grace, speak to our troubled world and community—even if we cannot find always find the words! As Wright suggests, ‘The garden is far less likely to grow weeds if we have been planting flowers’.

Martin

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