Dear member of the St Mary’s family,
Sending this feels like the start of something new in the life of the church. For the foreseeable future ‘church’ is going to be where each of us is, as individual Christians and in household groups. Of course this isn’t new at all, as from the early church onward it has often been in homes and small groups that the church as survived and grown. Instead of ‘going to church’, the church will come to us. We can do this in two particular ways.
Firstly, by being a good neighbour to any who are in need locally. All of the agencies in Barnes are working together to achieve this, and the church will play its part in this. If you are self-isolating and need help with delivery of food or other essential items, or would value someone to talk with on the phone, please let the church office know (020 8741 5422). If you are able to help as a volunteer in meeting these needs, again let the church office know by emailing [email protected]
Secondly, the church is there to support you, in sustaining you and your faith during this challenging time. I am waiting for guidance on whether and how we can continue with church services and will be in touch soon about this. We are exploring how best to get prayers, readings and reflections to you by email, and if we might be able to video services to you. I am happy to meet up face to face (at a reasonable physical distance!) at the church, or please phone or email [email protected] with any concerns or issues. As Christians we are people who are called to steer the path between false optimism, and panic-filled pessimism. Scripture shows us that the world is disordered and that life can contain terrible hardship and suffering. You may well feel anxious at the moment; there is no shame in that; and being able to share that with someone outside your immediate family & friends might be helpful. The bible also tells how God is with us in difficult times, and how Jesus walks that way continually with us in his journey to the cross and victory over death.
In Sunday’s gospel Jesus met with the Samaritan woman (John 4:5-42). It is a model for how He meets with us, and how we are to meet the needs of others. He doesn’t simply come to do things for her, He comes tired and thirsty, and she meets His needs too. His is a vulnerable love, which we are called to replicate in our dealings with others. Anxious times can cause us to put self-first and to harden ourselves against others. This is not the way we are to act. However, He does indeed have a gift for her: “a spring of water gushing up to eternal life”. I pray that we may all draw deeply on that well in all that lies ahead to take us through the current crisis.
Last Saturday we held a Quiet Day at St Nicholas Church in Chiswick and spent some time reflecting on the example of St. Peter. He responded enthusiastically and instinctively to Jesus’ call, but often got things wrong, got told off by Jesus, and denies knowing him when Jesus is incarcerated before the crucifixion. But that was not the end of the story. Jesus restores their relationship after the resurrection asking him three times over “do you love me” with Peter replying “Lord, you know that I love you”. And he is given a task by Jesus: “feed my lambs….tend my sheep…feed my sheep”. God will have a similar commission for each of us, in our own way, in the coming days and weeks.
Go well and with my prayers and best wishes,
Revd James Hutchings
Barnes Team Rector & Vicar of St Mary’s