News from the Pews - a letter from the Rector

Dear friends,

We are heading into a period of uncertainty and, for many, distress. Most of us have never had to face the radical measures that are being introduced, not just in the UK, but throughout the world. At such a time as this, we need to remember these important words from Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. (Psalm 46:1-2)

At the PCC meeting last night, it was agreed that St John's will not meet physically in our church building for the foreseeable future. Instead we will use the internet to stream a shorter service at 10:30am each Sunday, with the option of those without internet to dial-in and listen using a standard telephone. We will let you know more details soon.

During this time we also hope to have the church building open at certain times during the week for individuals to come and pray and we hope to use one of the outside trees as a large Prayer Tree. Finally, the church tower will be lit up every evening - on those evenings when there is no existing sponsorship, we will be thinking of and praying for those affected in whatever way by the situation caused virus.

If anybody requires any shopping or wants somebody to talk to on the telephone, please let us know. We will be sending out regular updates, prayers and offers of support together with details of how we, as a church, will continue to be here for you.

A few weeks ago, I took a trip out into a huge lake in the heart of Cambodia. A Vietnamese community live there, each family living in floating houses. It feels very isolated. The houses are not large - they are single storey and are about twice the size of our living room for a family of 5 or 6. Despite boatloads of tourists that sail close by to take pictures, there are few visitors who come and engage with them. Being Vietnamese they are often ostracised in Cambodia, due to centuries of past hatred. They are charged exorbitant fees if they wish to travel to the shore and dock. However, God is at work there in that isolated community. The church is little more than 10 years old and yet the Christians have provided a floating school for the children. One Christian mother told us the tale of how she could not afford the $20 docking fee to take her 2 sick children to hospital. All the family could do is pray - and God healed them. Another man told me how he was cured of alcoholism and smoking, since committing his life fully to Christ.

As we move into a time of feeling isolated, fearing for our health and future, the one secure hope that remains is Jesus Christ. I have been privileged to see how powerful and faithful he is over the past few weeks and I know I need to take this with me into the coming months. I want to encourage us all to remember this and to pray this beautiful prayer frequently:

Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

With every blessing in Christ,

Peter Goodridge
Tue 17 Mar 2020