St. Stephen's Church Hightown

....part of the local community.

Revd. Jan AshtonDear All,

These are not easy times, are they? Words I’ve not heard put together before are now common parlance: social isolation, lock down, social distancing and I know more about viruses than I’ve ever known: ordinary soap kills them but no matter how powerful the antibiotics are, they don’t touch them. All this change and worry has affected me. I’m often feeling befuddled. Is that a word? If it is, it’s not one I’ve used before. There’s another word I’d use to describe my mind, which is discombobulated; I didn’t know this was an actual word but it’s in my dictionary and means confused and disconcerted. Well, that’s me at the moment.

There are times we should question, times we should doubt. I’m a great believer in doubting; we are intelligent beings not automatons and what we believe needs thinking through, questioning and checking; also being willing to say ‘I’m not sure’ or ‘I don’t know’ is good. This process takes time. We haven’t got time on our side. This day, this moment, we need our faith and beliefs to be strong, to carry us when we struggle, to be a rock or a shield or a watchtower or any other of the metaphors in the Psalms, used to describe how God helps us. And if doubts are still there, to say they’re for another time, when we have time. Today I’ll take the beliefs of the church: that prayers are answered, that God is good, that the Holy Spirit is with us to give us God’s peace.

There are two beliefs in particular we need to be sure about. Firstly, acknowledging what’s good, seeing it, naming it as a gift from God and thanking God. This can help boost our mental wellbeing. Even in isolation, God can help us to realise we have a glass half full. So every day we can be thankful to God for the small things. I’ve seen three butterflies today; I’m well and my family are well so far; there’s curry for tea. Thank you Lord for these blessings. Every day let’s think about them and name them. Secondly, I’ve written elsewhere in this magazine about how we have to help our neighbours, but along with this help, what is important at the moment is to pray. In normal times I’m often urging us to do more silence and less talking in prayer - to do more listening. But in these abnormal times, I think we need to beseech God to have mercy on us, to spare us and our community.

I’m not saying that this virus is sent by God. This universe has its rules and if we mess too much with other animals e.g. bats, we run the risk of their viruses crossing over to us. God may not have caused it but can certainly help us and heal us. We can pray that our normal rebellion and wanting to flout authority is quietened, that we can do as we’re told, that we help when we can but don’t make the situation worse by putting ourselves in danger, by not being selfish at the shops. We can pray for those we know who are ill and that their bodies will put up a good fight against the virus and heal. We can pray for wise government. We can pray for ourselves that we will keep well in body, mind and spirit.

We are praying at 9am every day. Do join us to pray. This virus will soon be stopped.

Blessings - Jan
- Revd. Jan Ashton
Vicar of Hightown, Liverpool

Revd. Jan Ashton Vicar of Hightown, Liverpool. Telephone: 0151 929 3971 Email Me Here

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