Prayers for May
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
For those who are ill
God of compassion, be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation; in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
But reigns with you in glory, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
For hospital staff and medical researchers
Gracious God, give skill, sympathy and resilience
to all who are caring for the sick,
and your wisdom to those searching for a cure.
Strengthen them with your Spirit, that through their work
Many will be restored to health;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
(From Church of England ‘Prayers for use during the coronavirus outbreak’)
The streets we will pray for this month are:
Heston Grove, Honeysuckle Drive, Hook Lane, Hunter’s Close, Inglewood Close, Inglewood Drive, Jubilee Close, June Close, Kestrel Court, King’s Drive, Lagoon Road and Lake View.
We remember those who have died: Chris Taylor and Pauline Lucas
Letter from the Parish
Who would have thought that a bat (probably), infecting an animal in a seafood market in Wuhan, China, created a virus that could then jump to humans and cause a worldwide pandemic. In Pagham, like the rest of the country, we are in lockdown. Some people are suffering heartbreak at the loss of a loved one, many suffer physically, financially, socially, etc. We are enormously thankful to the NHS and other key workers who are working so hard on our behalf. But we are all living at a time of great uncertainty and may ask where is God in all this.
Last month we journeyed through Holy Week. On Good Friday Jesus was crucified, but on Easter Sunday we could proclaim the truth that Jesus had risen. He had conquered sin and death. He was seen alive by different people at different times, but one person who initially missed out was Thomas. When Jesus appeared to the disciples in the locked room, Thomas was not with them. When they told Thomas that they had seen the Lord, he didn’t believe the. As a result we remember him as ‘Doubting Thomas’.
Perhaps at times like the present we might feel we can relate to Thomas because of his doubts. It was a week later that Thomas saw the risen Lord for himself, and so he believed. Jesus could have been angry with Thomas for his slowness and his doubts. But he wasn’t, he was compassionate and gracious and as a result ‘Doubting Thomas’ became ‘Believing Thomas’.
After Thomas had believed and given his great confession of faith ‘My Lord and my God’, Jesus said ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’.
It reminds me of the hymn
Through the night of doubt and sorrow
onward goes the pilgrim band.
Singing songs of expectation,
marching to the promised land.
We may ask, ‘is true faith, doubt-free’? I suggest honest doubt is not the opposite of faith, nor is doubt the same as unbelief. The opposite of faith is unbelief, which is a mind closed to God.
If we have doubts their source may be in the agonising questions thrown up by the apparent contradiction between an all powerful God and our human experience of suffering as in the present pandemic. Doubt is not betraying our faith in that sense, it is not something to feel guilty about. Os Guiness said “The world of Christian faith is not a fairy-tale, make believe world, question free and problem-proof, but a world where doubt is never far from faith’s shoulder.”
Handley Moule, who was Bishop of Durham circa 1900, had the job of visiting the relatives of 170 miners killed in a mining accident. While wondering what to say he picked up a little bookmark his mother had given him. As he looked at it, the reverse side of the crocheted bookmark was a tangled web, but on the other side it said ‘God is love’. The world may seem a tangled web to us at this time, but behind it all is the love of God, who suffered for us on the cross. In all the uncertainties of these days, may we hold on to the great love of God for each one of us.
Rev Canon Colin Wood