23 May 2020 • From Elizabeth, our Vicar
In these times when everyday life remains a challenge for some, testing for others and immensely difficult for many, here is a prayer from the Reverend Paul Nicolson, who died recently. [For a fascinating tour through some of the thousands of campaining letters he wrote in his lifetime, see this article in The Guardian. A remarkable man. --Ed.] Paul spent much of his life challenging the injustices of society, working alongside those impoverished by debt and living in solidarity with the poor. When he died he was involved in drafting an ‘Elimination of Homelessness Bill’ which, were it to become law, would mean that councils must count those who are homeless, list empty properties, and provide affordable housing for all who need it.
Jesus, our brother, lead us out of illusion, out of injustice,
out of oppression, out of suffering, out of poverty,
out of darkness into the light,
the light of hope, of peace, of love, of understanding,
into the wonder, into the mystery. Amen.
As we come into the season of Pentecost, the season of hope when the church comes to birth and the disciples begin to spread the message of faith, the message of resurrection life, the message of Jesus, out to the world, it’s good to remember that there have always been people in the church who have walked with those people who are disadvantaged. There have always been Christians who have cared for those who are sick and suffering; Christians who have challenged unjust legal systems and upheld the rights of freedom.
In these days we are all called to witness a great deal of suffering – in this country and in many countries around the world. Poor communities are hit hardest. Those with low incomes rarely have a full bank account to fall back on. Sick, vulnerable and elderly people are being asked to live in an extended time of isolation. And, in amongst all of the difficulties and hardships, we read stories of care and compassion, of helpful neighbours and caring colleagues, of generosity and friendship, all spreading around our communities, our country and our world showing to us human identity at its best.
In the Pentecost story there were bystanders who sneered at the disciples as they proclaimed the message of the gospel in multiple languages, proclaiming them to be drunk, ‘filled with new wine.’ But others are rather more discerning – they’re amazed and perplexed. ‘What does this mean,’ they asked, ‘that we hear these people speaking of God’s powerful deeds, and we hear it each in our own language?’
‘What does this mean?’ we may ask in this season of Pentecost. ‘What does this mean that the world is come to such a place of suffering and devastation and that the world’s people are called upon to carry such a burden in our own day?’
With blessings in these difficult days,
Revd Elizabeth Cathie
If you would like to read the Pentecost story, you’ll find it in Acts chapter 2 verses 1-21.