Dear Sisters and brothers In Christ

May God grant us all his mercy, peace and hope through Jesus Christ at this time.

I must confess when I received an email from Margaret reminding me that it was my turn to do the pastoral letter I was surprised and a little shocked at how quickly time had gone since I had written the last one. I suppose it’s a bit like how Christmas often catches us unprepared even though it’s the same date every year.

Do you like surprises? I imagine most us like a nice surprise, maybe a bouquet of flowers, a homemade cake from a friend or something that helps us to feel loved and appreciated; however none of us like a bad surprise. A sudden event, phone call or letter that is of a tragic nature can leave us feeling heartbroken and traumatised. We were unprepared. No one was prepared for the past year; no one could have foreseen or predicted 100,000 deaths due to Covid this time last year. The stories we have heard of the shock and grief from family members and friends of those who have died have touched us all. Archbishop Justin Welby’s response on Breakfast Television News last week to the question why was this happening was very poignant, he said ‘Beware of the easy answer’.

As we journey into 2021 there may well be unexpected events in our lives that we are totally unprepared for. Are there ways that we, as Christians can prepare for the unexpected? I’d like to leave you with 3 ways that could help us in the coming years come to terms with unexpected events.

  1. Daily prayer times- Our vulnerability and God’s strength meet together in prayer, it’s good to know that nothing takes God by surprise. No matter how strong or weak our faith may be at the moment, let us try to stay close to God in prayer.
  • Let us remember the promises of God in scripture.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given …that the man of God may be …thoroughly furnished unto all good works. The words ‘thoroughly furnished’ were words used for the equipping of a ship for a long voyage with everything that could be needed for any eventuality. May our minds be thoroughly furnished with God’s promises as we voyage into this year.
  • And lastly, let’s not lose contact with each other. Especially during a crisis we need our friends, we need the community of faith to support us in prayer and friendship. Hebrews 10:25 encourages us to keep meeting together (even if it is by zoom or facetime etc).

May God bless you all.

Mark Chester

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