PASTORAL LETTER FROM PETE BANGS 3rd June 2020

Dear friends

I hope this finds you all well and making the best of these strange times.

When I was young I read a great number of science-fiction novels. Many involved dystopian futures where a plague or some other disaster had struck and those who survived and prospered were the worst of humanity. Violent, self-centred men building mini empires on the blood of others. Fast forward to 2020 and we have our disaster, thousands are dying and people are suffering and isolated. But humanity has risen to the challenge. We have been the best “us”, not the worst as many expected. Communities have come together looking out for each other. People are helping and caring for their neighbour. Jesus gave us two commandments in Matthew 22:37 – 40. The first commandment was to love God with all your heart, your soul and your mind and then he commanded us “and the second is like it (the first), love your neighbour as yourself”. Right now much of the world seems to be living out that commandment. Our circuit has provided some 400 face mask extenders for local hospitals and care homes, neighbours are actually getting to know each other, people are leaving care packages of food on the doorsteps of elderly people in the community, picking up prescriptions for each other, swapping plants and recipes, doing everything they can to make the going easier. And in the midst of all this people are turning to prayer. Google searches about prayer are, we are told, sky-rocketing. People are searching for comfort and meaning. Two weeks ago, inspired by Waltham Chase’s Facebook page for community prayer, I set up a Prayers for Sholing page and shared it through the two local community groups on there. In two weeks it has had over 2500 views. People want to know about prayer and where God is in all this. Our prayer is particularly important in this time because we draw strength and hope from Him who hears our cries.

It can be difficult to be strong in this time, so don’t be strong, lean on Jesus and go forward in his strength. Remember that God is working in this and your prayers, for yourself, family, friends, neighbours and the world at large are all heard by Him. And take a look at the world around you and take heart in all you see His hand in.

Please remember in your prayers all those working on the frontline to keep us healthy and fed. The NHS staff, the care home staff and home care staff, the bus drivers and the shop workers and delivery people. Remember also those working to keep us connected in this time, Margaret in the office, the circuit and church stewards and lay leaders and the good people putting together Sunday services on line and making phone calls to check on each other.

May God bless each one of you with his peace, joy and strength. In closing I would like to share a prayer.

Prayer

Dear Lord, we thank you for all you do in our lives and the lives of those around us. We ask that you make yourself visible to those desperate for comfort and meaning at this time and that you give us the strength to be good representatives of your love to everyone we come into contact with. Lord we ask too that you give us the patience and endurance to be all that you call us to be during this pandemic and to lean into you at all times.

Blessings

Pete Bangs

Pioneer Missioner

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