From the Rector
There was no magazine in April or May, and there have been no church services, no rotas, no midweek meetings, no clubs of any description running in the church hall or anywhere. I guess for the first week or so the lockdown may have seemed quite exciting but the novelty has certainly worn off by now.
Many of us have had to grow used to gathering on Sunday mornings to watch our services online, and Jez and I have had to learn very quickly how to make videos. Phone calls, writing notes and Zoom meetings have taken the place of face to face conversations. All of it feels second best and barely adequate, and yet some good things have come out of the lockdown.
Right from the beginning, in partnership with Denton Community Challenge and the Havens Community Hub, we were able to set up a community helpline to provide a basic service to anyone who needed a prescription collected or some shopping done. An astonishing number of people volunteered to help so that to date we have been more than able to cover the requests. Many, many thanks to all those who have helped.
Again from the beginning, lots of us have been gathering to pray separately but together on Wednesday evenings using an email of prayer points and suggestions sent out each week. I know that this has been an encouraging discipline for many and something that we have struggled to do as a church family for years. I feel too that our care for one another has improved. People are looking out for one another in our church family and trying to keep in touch more deliberately than we did before the lockdown.
Finally, time to slow down and reflect is often overrated but after all the fuss about moving the May Bank Holiday to Friday 8 May, I did find that for once there was time to enjoy the V-E Day celebrations and memories.
One thing that particularly struck me was the reading (in full) of the personal message from Field Marshall B.L. Montgomery C-in-C which was originally read to all the troops of his 21 Army Group in May 1945. It began:
On this day of victory in Europe I feel I would like to speak to all who have served and fought with me during the last few years. What I have to say is very simple, and quite short.
I would ask you all to remember those of our comrades who fell in the struggle. They gave their lives that others might have freedom, and no man can do more than that.
Those words naturally reminded me of another war and victory which came to a head 2000 years ago when the Lord Jesus willingly laid down his life on a cross, that others might have freedom from death, sin and judgment.
As Roger Carswell says in his excellent V-E Day tract, “War on a big scale begins with war in the heart of each of us. Worldwide outbursts of evil are an explosion of the small-scale scandal of sin in each of us.
“But on the cross, all that wickedness was laid on Jesus. He was forsaken by God so that we might be forgiven. Heaven is not a reward for doing good, but a gift which Jesus purchased and offers to all.”
How we need to hear and to keep reminding each other of those words! With best wishes in Christ,