Pastoral Letter – Wed 10th June:

My Dear Friends,

I remember hearing of a wee boy who said that his favourite part of the Service - was the GRACE! “The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit - be with you all.” For him, that was the best bit - because it meant that it was all over, and he could go home! The Benediction, however, is not simply a meaningless, conventional way of saying that its all over and you can go home. Although, the Benediction may very well be the “best bit”; for it sends us out into the world - with the Blessing of God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - on our lives. That is something to think about in this week immediately following Trinity Sunday. 

Early men and women came to discover what God is like by reflecting on the world in which they lived - and sensing behind it all a Creator who is loving and righteous. Eventually, they came to understand God as being like a Loving Heavenly Father to them. A Father is someone who gives us life and guides us in our development, and provides for us, and wants the best for us. This is the faith and understanding which was taught by Jesus; the insight which we have inherited. God is Creative and Fatherlike. He is the God who is over and above us.

Later, Jesus was to say to Philip: “I and my Father are One. He who has seen me has seen the Father.” How often do we say of a son that he is awfully like his father? Sometimes its a mannerism, or a characteristic, or an inflection of the voice. Sometimes its a little glimpse of physical identity and family likeness. Paul said of Jesus that he was “the very image of God.” (2 Cor.4:4). That is exactly how those who knew Jesus experienced him. The God who is over and above us is also alongside us. Jesus is called “Emmanuel” which means that God is with us. God reveals Himself to us in a human life - showing us what He is really like.
Thirdly, it is also our experience that God is not only over and above us - as Father and Creator. Not only does God come alongside us - in and through the human life of Jesus. God is also powerfully at work – within us!

Jesus promised that he would be with his followers “to the end of time.” That means he was not simply present there and then; but living here and now! In Jesus, his friends and followers had confidently felt the very Power and Presence of GOD - right there alongside them! As long as Jesus was there - the strength of that assurance and conviction remained unshaken!

After the Resurrection and Ascension they found that what Jesus had promised was utterly true! The Presence of Christ, and the Power of God – was with them still! Not just out there; but actually within them! Here was another source of spiritual strength to fortify them.

God continues to be within us; and still today many faithful souls have experienced the spiritual reality of His Presence and nearness. His Spirit continues to be at work within our lives - inspiring, guiding, rebuking, challenging, encouraging. “You know him,” said Jesus, “because he dwells with you and is in you.” (John 14:17) 

As we live with the frustrations and restrictions of lockdown we remember that our experience of God is not restricted to Church and Public Worship. God is positively and actively involved in our daily living. Above us; alongside us; and within us. Three different, and yet, related ways in which we can understand the God we serve and worship.

The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit - be with you all.”

Liz joins me in sending our love.