Wednesday 25th March 2020

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Waking earlier than usual today I set off up Baxtons Road, an idyllic scene, a country lane snaking up towards a close horizon. The birds were singing their hearts out and most of the sky was a lovely pale early morning blue. Past the Swimming Pool new born lambs anxiously hovered around their mothers. Previously I have sat on the seat and looked down towards Helmsley, dominated of course by Church and Castle. What a lovely situation we are in. 


And then there is this wretched virus. We are surrounded by beauty and yet this invisible pathogen is killing thousands of people across the world and forcing us to be two metres away from eachother at the very least, and now, leave own homes as little as possible. It is awful, a dreadful thing, making us anxious and sick inside, even if we are not physically sick.


My understanding is that the virus is caused by the natural evolution of nature, it is not caused by God. God creates the world and continues to love and sustain it, but he does not control and plan our lives. Nature takes its course, hence the immense variety within the created order, but the cost of this is disease, and earthquakes and tornadoes and much other natural phenomena.


I believe we can hope that through those awful events which can beset us personally, and the more global events such as a virus which affects us all. What reason do we have for hope? The psalms are so helpful in all kinds of human experience. Perhaps our best loved Psalm, 23, expresses the knowledge that God walks beside us: 'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me'. 


We all have our favourite verses which expresses God’s promise to look after us. One of mine is from Psalm 17, used in the traditional night service of Compline: 'Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings' (verse 8). 


We must remember too, and this is not easy, that trust in God does not mean that we will not suffer, and of course we all eventually die. Our trust in God is based not on our short existence here on earth, but on our eternal home with God. As St Paul says to the Church in Rome and across the centuries to us: 'I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us'. And St John 3.16: 'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life'.


You are all constantly in my prayers. I pray for everyone in the parish by road once a week and those I know, by name. The physical church may be closed but let's be Church differently, praying for and sustaining and helping eachother in whatever way we can.


Very best wishes