Russell’s Monthly Newsletter – April 2020

Dear Friends,

They used to say in times gone by (BC – Before Coronavirus) that a week was a long time in politics.  As I look back to what I wrote for Reflections a month ago, it seems like a completely different world.  I didn’t even refer to Covid-19.  How naïve and short-sighted!  Within the space of a couple of weeks life for everyone has been turned upside down and inside out.  I even have to try and anticipate whether things will be even more difficult by the time you get to read this.  So let me deal with some things of which I am sure.

Firstly, I hope you are all aware of how amazing you have been in adapting to our new, and temporary way, of being church.  When I phoned people for whom I didn’t have an email address to tell them that we had had to suspend worship and church activities, without fail people were understanding and accepting.  It was a phone call I had never anticipated having to make but everyone was affirming and supportive.  That was a huge help and encouragement as we entered this new phase in our life and mission.  Thank you for coping so well.

Secondly, I have even surprised myself at how it is possible to be church even when you cannot do so many of the things we used to take for granted.  I will never again complain of having to go out to church committee meetings now that I cannot do such things in person.  But, interestingly and valuably, the life of the church hasn’t stopped even because of social distancing and self-isolation. We may have had to close the building but we have not closed church. We have found new and creative ways of being church that will be useful even when the crisis is passed and we look to life PC (Post Coronavirus). 

Thirdly, it is not only possible still to be church.  It is absolutely vital that we are still church.  There has never been a greater need in my lifetime to proclaim a message of hope to our very troubled world.  Faced with death and destitution on a scale unthinkable a month ago, we have to be at the forefront of proclaiming an Easter message to a world living during the darkness of Good Friday. 

April 2020 – Easter

There is life beyond the cross.  Light will come even though we only see darkness now.  Spring will come after a very dark winter.  The love of God knows no boundaries, not even the boundary between life BC and PC, and certainly not DC (During Coronavirus).  God is with us in the pain and confusion of our current situation.  God is working through the compassion and heroism of NHS staff putting themselves at risk to care for us.  God is present in Cabinet offices as people make hard decisions about how best to react to changing circumstances.  And God is present in research centres across the globe as experts look for a cure for Covid-19. 

Thirdly, it is not only possible still to be church.  It is absolutely vital that we are still church.  There has never been a greater need in my lifetime to proclaim a message of hope to our very troubled world.  Faced with death and destitution on a scale unthinkable a month ago, we have to be at the forefront of proclaiming an Easter message to a world living during the darkness of Good Friday.  There is life beyond the cross.  Light will come even though we only see darkness now.  Spring will come after a very dark winter.  The love of God knows no boundaries, not even the boundary between life BC and PC, and certainly not DC (During Coronavirus).  God is with us in the pain and confusion of our current situation.  God is working through the compassion and heroism of NHS staff putting themselves at risk to care for us.  God is present in Cabinet offices as people make hard decisions about how best to react to changing circumstances.  And God is present in research centres across the globe as experts look for a cure for Covid-19.

Together we will be strong and united.  As I said when the pandemic began to take hold, it has always been a privilege and joy to be minister of Purley United Reformed Church.  That is never more true than during this crisis.

With love and prayers

Russell

Russell Furley-Smith

Author: Russell Furley-Smith

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