Weekly email. w/b 25th January 2021
You will have seen the devastating milestone yesterday of more than 100,000 people across the UK who have died after contracting COVID-19. Behind each of these figures is a beloved life and a community in grief. As the Archbishops of Canterbury and York wrote yesterday “100,000 isn’t just an abstract figure. Each number is a person: someone we loved and someone who loved us. We also believe that each of these people was known to God and cherished by God.“
What more might be said in the midst of a great sadness?
Firstly this does feel like a period of lamenting, of crying out along with many women and men in scripture and ever since who cry out to God. I’ve been thinking this morning of the writer of Lamentations who spoke in the midst of profound trauma with a rawness and an honesty to prayer which many of us may not have done before.
Open up websites or listen to media today and there’s a lot of “blame game” going on, with a not-unnatural desire to find someone or somewhere to lay the blame. But there’s something different about lament. Lament isn’t about anger or blame, it is when we acknowledge – with grief and pain – that there’s nowhere to hide and we’ve no fixes left. That we aren’t invulnerable, that things may not always be “getting better”, and that ultimately we can’t make our own destinies. It’s good and right to acknowledge all of that.
Secondly read Lamentations – and look around today – and you’ll also see glimpses of hope. In Lamentations it is that beautiful promise of the Lord’s “unfailing love and mercy” (3:22-24), words usually quoted totally out of context but there all the same. The writer is without comfort, but not without hope. Perhaps today – with a vaccine roll-out which is promising and perhaps a levelling off of infections – we too are reminded of the dawn of hope in the darkness. Our hope rests not on human skills or achievements, but ultimately is grounded in a faithful God. Death need not have the last word. In God’s kingdom every tear will be wiped away.
So we lament. And we hope. And in the midst of both we pray.
as we remember before you the thousands who have died,
surround us and all who mourn with your strong compassion.
Be gentle with us in our grief,
protect us from despair,
and give us grace to persevere
and face the future with hope
in Jesus Christ our risen Lord.
Grace and peace
Revd Phil Cansdale, Vicar of Trinity Churches and Area Dean of Shrewsbury
1. Join in one of our Sunday morning gatherings. 9.30am for pyjama church, and 10.30am for our mid morning gathering. You’ll find us via our website at www.trinitychurches.org/live, or on Facebook Live.
2. Let us know what we can be praying for you. There’s a small group of trusted people who pray regularly for people. What might they pray for you, or for others around you? Follow the button off the front page of our website called “pray for me.”
3. Get children and young people involved. Judith Clarkson and Craig Silcock are doing a great job with quite a few different midweek meet-ups, as well as providing school assemblies in local primary schools, Sunday instagram videos etc. There’s also Pyjama Church on Sunday mornings at 9.30am and available through all the week. Chat to them about how they can support you in sharing faith at home.
4. Join in with the growing community at Six o’clock live. We meet daily 6pm to 6.20pm, and are currently going through the “Big Story of the Bible”. (3 weeks down, 3 weeks to go!) Twenty minutes of prayer, Bible reading, reflection, video, music… and a chance albeit via Facebook to chat together. You’ll find us via our website at www.trinitychurches.org/live, or on Facebook Live.
5. Seek help or support for yourself or someone around you. For some of our congregations there are really good networks of phone support, with people phoning each other on a regular basis. We’ve strong links with Shrewsbury Food Hub and are involved in different networks on the ground supporting people in that way. We also have a few people able to help with shopping, or a listening ear. Be in touch with me or the Church Office if that would be a support.
6. Dial-in to Church with our weekly Phone Service. For those without tech and gadgets you can phone 01743 298249 for a 15-20 minute weekly service. With a more traditional feel, it features a hymn or two, a reading and reflection, and a chance to ‘do and be church’ for those who can’t join in with services in other ways.
7. Join with others in supporting the church financially. Thank you so much for the amazing generosity of so many during these last nine months. Your gifts are making a huge difference in our vision of ‘growing faith, proclaiming hope and living the love of Jesus.’ If you are new, or would like to find out more about how to give towards the life of the church, you’ll find that on our website at www.trinitychurches.org/give.
8. Join others on a Sunday morning for post-church coffee. There are a good number of people who stick around after our mid-morning Sunday gathering to chat and pray over a cup of coffee. There’s always room for more. Ideas are emerging for a Sunday “extra caffeine” one off in a couple of weeks time. Go to www.trinitychurches.org/onlinecoffee to join when the service finishes, normally around 11.30am.
9. Join a small group. Did you know there are about twenty small groups who meet at different times of the week? In each one there are opportunities to look out for each other and grow discipleship together. Obviously groups are needing to learn new ways of meeting together, and not all groups are able to meet regularly. More details on our website, and look out for plans for Lent 2021 which will offer opportunities to get involved midweek.
10. Let us know how you are getting on. One of the greatest sadnesses of this last nine months is that many of us haven’t been able to see each other in the usual ways. A chat on a Sunday, meet-up in Cafe Connect, bumping into others walking down the road or a play-date at toddler group. Email and phone calls may not be quite as good, but they can still be an effective way to keep in touch. I and colleagues on the ministry team would love to hear from you, how you are doing at this stage of Lockdown, and if there are any particular ways in which we can be praying for you and supporting you. The Church Office phone number is 01743 362399, or my email email@example.com.
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