9th January 2021 Newsletter
United Benefice Newsletter 9th January 2021
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Prophet Isaiah 41.10)
Welcome dear friends to our new Newsletter.
We all knew how bad the pandemic was even before Boris pronounced the third lockdown. It became more real and more challenging for many people. It became more terrifying but let us remember the words of Isaiah above:’ Fear not’. How many times in the bible are we told ‘Do not be afraid’ or ‘fear not’? Nowhere in the Bible are we told that we should be unafraid of the world. In Jesus` day and today in the Derbyshire Dales, there is so much to be afraid of. We can be truly afraid of losing our jobs, our food on the tables, our mortgages, our homes, even our lives and the lives of our loved ones.
Yes, we can be afraid. But my dear friends, God is saying to us there is a deeper reality; a deeper truth etc. The truth Jesus Christ was talking about is that even in death our story does not end. Over Christmas – it was the second one since my Mum had died – I was remembering her as I was thinking of past Christmases. In that way, we keep our loved ones’ memories alive.
I’m sure like me you remember your own loved ones. But God is saying to us throughout the Bible our loved ones are really alive; truly living in Heaven. So Covid and lockdown and even death itself can never come between the love of God and each one of us, His Children.
I finish this introduction to our first Lockdown newsletter with words from the Psalms. “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34.4)
The Saints on earthly difficulties
“Jesus is with you even when you don’t feel His presence. He is never so close to you as He is during your spiritual battles.” ~ St. Padre Pio
We must often draw a comparison between time and eternity. This is the remedy of all our troubles. How small will the present moment appear when we enter that great ocean. 8
St. Elizebeth Ann Seton
It is loving the Cross that one finds one heart, for Divine Love cannot live without suffering. 10
We are at Jesus’ disposal. If he wants you to be sick in bed, if he wants you to proclaim His work in the street, if he wants you to clean the toilets all day, that’s all right, everything is all right. We must say, “I belong to you. You can do whatever you like.” And this ..is our strength, and this is the joy of the Lord. 11
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross. 12
St. John of the Cross
Many would be willing to have afflictions provided that they not be inconvenienced by them.” 14
St. Francis de Sales
The principal act of courage is to endure and withstand dangers doggedly rather than to attack them.” 15
St. Thomas Aquinas
What was the life of Christ but a perpetual humiliation? 16
St. Vincent de Paul
Why should we defend ourselves when we are misunderstood and misjudged? Let us leave that aside. Let us not say anything. It is so sweet to let others judge us in any way they like. O blessed silence, which gives so much peace to the soul! 18
St. Therese of Lisieux
Things to be aware of
As we’ve been told by medical professionals there are now more than two types of the Covid Virus. This latest one to hit England is highly contagious and so I have told our Churchwardens from now on we will have no physical worship in our churches nor private prayer. I’m aware some were against this type of decision during the first lockdown but let me be clear my reasoning is simple – I will not put any of our community nor the wider locality at any risk. As soon as it is safe to begin worship I will be, along with you, very happy to return to our church buildings. Can I remind all of us of a basic truth of theology. The Ecclesia – the Church is first and foremost the People of God. So the People of God will not stop praying, nor worshipping, nor carrying out acts of love and charity to those in need. We simply will not do that in our building until the lockdown is over. Finally, one thing I’ve done since the first lockdown is learned how to use Zoom on the computer. So at 11 am on every Sunday until we gather once more physically I’ll be leading a Service on Zoom for all our communities. If anyone would like to read or lead prayers please drop me an email. Below you will see the link which Ian Sutton has kindly sorted out for us. If you have any problem please contact Ian.
We all know that times are difficult in many ways but I have to bring two-points to your attention.
- We still have bills to pay in all three of our churches and we’ve lost a great deal of money since January. Please consider your generous giving to our churches. As one elderly member of one of our churches said, “pensions have increased every year. So should our giving” Some people may give a pound – but what does £1 buy today? Equally, (2) we need to be a community that; lives out the Graciousness of God. God has given us everything that means we to are called to serve all people in need.
The Bishop of Derby’s Covid-19 Update 5 January 2021
The latest advice, links to guidance, and answers to FAQs are available on the Church of England website: churchofengland.org/coronavirus
From Bishop Libby
‘Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will be with us all’ 2 John v3 My friends, I do hope you found gentle comfort and simple joy over Christmas. And I wish you a peaceful New Year. It seems that 2021, though, is presenting us with new challenges, as we enter another period of national lockdown in an attempt to arrest the spread of this more virulent variant of the coronavirus. I think we were looking to this new year wishing that the introduction of vaccines would speed up our personal, local and national recovery. I expect you share my sense of disappointment and frustration that circumstances have changed again, and we, for good and right reason, are required to ‘Stay home, Save lives, Protect the NHS’. We remain hopeful, though, because our hope is founded, not on the ‘changes and chances’ of life but on Christ himself, the light of the world, the Word made flesh – God with us. Epiphany reminds us of the generosity of God, who chose to share everything of Himself with us. In the footsteps of the Magi, we continue to seek Christ that we might offer all of ourselves in worship – and be open to our lives being transformed in that encounter. Especially now, with generous faith, courageous hope, and life-giving love may we – in Christ, with Christ, for Christ – see lives transformed in growing Church and building community. Be assured of my continuing and grateful prayers, +Libby
A Prayer for Epiphany
Creator of the heavens,
who led the Magi by a star
to worship the Christ–child:
guide and sustain us,
that we may find our journey’s end
in Jesus Christ our Lord.