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Yours are the eyes through which he looks...

(This week’s newsletter is written by Alice Smith)

Dear Church Family

I seem to have spent a large part of this week cancelling things – again. I had hoped to be able to spend two days away with a small group of students as part of my work, delivering an intensive module that had to be postponed in the early days of the pandemic. But on Thursday evening, I found myself recording a short video message to them to communicate the news that, with the shifts into Tier 2 here in Essex and in London, we could no longer meet together in person as we had hoped. By the 6th and final take, my computer and my eye make-up had taken a bashing!

Yesterday afternoon, the Rooted Community gathered again in the café at St Peter’s with a sense of shock, in many of the conversations, that we are back in this place again – of increased restrictions, escalating infections and uncertain outcomes. In positive contrast to the earlier phases of the pandemic, we are also in a place where we understand the regulations better, what we can and can’t do and why. And with that comes a renewed determination, as a church community, to ensure that people’s wellbeing, physical, emotional and spiritual is prioritised wherever possible. As a worshipping community of the Parish and as an essential support group for so many, Rooted will be able to continue meeting each week, for now. This is also the case for our weekly services of course as well as the Daily Bread Café on Tuesdays and Fridays, providing not just food and company but a safe and sacred space for people to gather.

Teresa of Avila: Image by Claudia Morcueto from Pixabay

This week in Morning Prayer (join us live on Facebook or catch up later!) we celebrated the writer, mystic and contemplative Teresa of Avila. Of all her beautiful writings and devotions (do look her up!), one particularly struck me this week:

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

At this point, you’re probably expecting a careful weaving together of the continuing crazy story of the pandemic with a reflection on Teresa of Avila’s words! But just like the cancellations and restrictions I began with, I find myself almost continually having to start again…. since March, I guess we have all embarked on a journey in faith and life that we didn’t really ever want to take!

I am discovering again that Christ, in me, is strength in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and hope in my despair (Colossians 1:27). I have cried ugly tears at times this week, and caused others pain, made selfish choices – whilst also marvelling at the way that God is on the move in our midst, through me, through others, through his church. Wonderfully, it is not either/or, a behaviour contract or a neat equation.

Despite our own doubts or anger, or our belief about our own inadequacies, or how we may feel about the way our world is spiralling, God is using his people, his children, his hands and feet on earth to bring compassion, blessing and encouragement to others. YOU, yes YOU are Christ’s hands and feet in this world…..just take a moment to think about that! (1 Corinthians 12:27)

And before you say – “I don’t know what I believe” or “I am definitely not doing anything for God” or “I’m far too messed up for that”, let’s return to the truth of the Gospels … God is with us.

He is not absent, He is not restricted, He is not immune to the pain or the sadness we feel – indeed He demonstrated that He is with us in this by joining us in the mess…..and by his Spirit is with us now. It is that same Spirit that works through us as we are continually transformed on this journey of faith – reconfigured, not cancelled!

Let’s give Teresa of Avila the last word:

Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you, all things are passing away.
God never changes, patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God, lacks nothing, God alone suffices.

All Saints Day - Sunday 1st November

Invitations to our All Saints Day memorial service have been sent to families we have served through funeral ministry in the last year. This years’ service will be a “virtual” one – streamed on our Facebook page at 6 pm. Families are invited to watch along, join in with prayers and light a candle alongside everyone else who is watching. To join in with the service, head to at 6 pm on 1st November. If you would like the name of a loved one read out and remembered at the service then please get in touch with Dawn in the Parish Office 01277 262864 or by Thursday 29th October. As ever, please do get in touch if there is anything the leadership team can help with.

Have a good week!

Alice x

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