This month's article has been written by Rev Gill Stanning, our Mission Area Pioneer Priest and Rector of Llanfynydd with Cymau and Ffrith...
When reading a tense novel there can be a temptation for some of us to read the last pages to see how it all turns out. Whilst there are downsides to this tactic, the advantage is that it gives confidence in the outcome that you wouldn’t have had without a sneak preview! I am guessing that at present, we would all like to be able to ‘skip to the end of the story’. All of us are having to deal with an entirely new situation…a global pandemic. Covid-19…or as it is commonly called ‘Coronavirus’. No-one really knows how this new disease will develop, how many will be infected and whether the NHS will be able to cope. At my time of writing we are in the relatively early stages. Life hasn’t altered too much (except for a lamentable shortage of loo roll in the supermarkets and a heightened desire to wash our hands!) However, that may well change. Each day new advice is coming out, new rules and regulations are being imposed and people are concerned.
It is a difficult time. ‘Keeping calm and carrying on’ isn’t always as simple as it may seem - but that is exactly what we need to try and do. We need also to find hope in all of this because (like my reading analogy) it would be nice to know that it all ends well; that we are going to be ok and life will get back to normal.
During the days leading up to Jesus resurrection, the disciples must have felt much turmoil and despair…their Lord and master had been captured, tried and condemned. Then he was executed in the most barbaric of ways. It must have been very difficult for them to ‘keep calm and carry on’. I wonder if they felt any hope at all at this stage, hiding behind closed doors, fearful that the soldiers may be coming for them next, not knowing if they would survive this difficult time when their world seemed to be falling apart and God seemed so distant. Yet, with hindsight we know that their circumstances were about to change…dramatically! Jesus would rise again, they would see him on many occasions, Jesus would ascend to heaven and the Holy Spirit would come. Then those previously frightened disciples would boldly go out and found the early church - exciting times were ahead!
The season of Easter is a key time for hope and optimism. It reassures us that God has things under control even when we feel overwhelmed or lacking in any hope at all. It is for this reason that the dark part of the Easter story is such a necessary part of Holy week. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday give us time to reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for us. By skipping ahead to the resurrection (before considering why Jesus loved us so much that he was prepared to die for us) we lose the importance of Easter and why it is worth celebrating at all.
We are undoubtedly living in turbulent times but remember that we have a God who cares, who is there through the dark times as well as the good. Pray for one another, help one another and to be there for one another. This worrying time will end. In the meantime, we keep calm and carry on remembering that God loves and cares for each one of us personally - so much so that he sent Jesus – our true and living ‘hope for all’!
Please do join us for any of our services, especially during Holy Week and Easter Sunday. We would love to see you.
Rev Adam Pawley