Weekly Update 22/04/2020

Dear Church Family,

The government is saying that we need to be distanced from one another for at least the next three weeks, and what happens after that is uncertain. So we are to be ready for more of the same. 

Many of us have loved ones and members of our extended families who are ill and even some who have died. This is a time of deep sadness and grief for most of us, but we have this encouragement:

‘Weeping may stay for the night,  But rejoicing comes in the morning.’
(Psalm 30:5)

David wrote these words when things seemed dark and uncertain. He was facing a serious illness (Ps 30:2-3) which the Lord has allowed because things were going his way and he was successful and secure (Ps 30:6), and had become self-reliant and complacent. As F.D. Kidner puts it: ‘easy circumstances and a careless outlook are seldom far apart.’ The Lord was using his illness to bring him back to the humble trust of his youth.
Looking back on that time David’s testimony is that the night does not last forever. The sun will always rise; and through the darkness, can come the blessing of a renewed reliance on the Lord. Life may not be perfect, comfortable or free of pain and struggle. But in all our pain, uncertainty and fear, God is always with us and working for us.
The Lord brought David through his trial with his faith refocused. So, may the Lord bring us through this trial spiritually stronger too, remembering that, whatever happens…

‘…We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.’
(Romans 5:1-5)

Practically speaking, here are five ‘Rs’ that a submarine commander commends to his crew who have to spend 3 months at a time in close confinement, to help us through our time of confinement:
Routine – keep to a routine that makes use of the time we’ve got. Routine breaks up the day. Planning a routine for the day with time for exercise, meals, work, projects, bed times and rising times is a good way to make each day distinct and fruitful.
Ritual – make sure that the important things are in place: Time with the Lord to read the Bible and pray; meeting with the rest of the Church family for the online service at 10:45 on Sunday mornings; and at 8pm on Wednesday evenings for the midweek gathering to meditate on a Psalm together and pray for the world, the nation and one another. These are important rituals to prioritise.
Renewal – keep your body healthy with regular home cooked meals eaten together with others in the household as often as possible. Take regular exercise and aim to be more fit by the end of this than at the start.
Retreat – on a submarine the crew are encouraged to draw the curtains on their bunk beds to indicate they are having a bit of time on their own, and the rest of the crew are not to disturb this. It is important for mothers especially to be given a bit of down time while partners look after the children, for example.
Respect – there are bound to be times when we get on one another’s nerves. Times when we say and do things that annoy others in the household. At these times it is important to pay each other the respect of remembering that the other person(s) loves and cares for you and that they don’t intend to harm you, they’re just getting fed up with things and letting off steam.
Finally, please keep praying for our world. I’ve been in touch with David Kariuki who was a Cornhiller with us several years ago and is now head of the Kisima Pastoralist’s School in Kenya which the Lord used David to start. In his email David gives us a snapshot of the situation in Kenya:

“I hope you are all coping well with what sadly looks like the new normal in the world for the foreseeable future. We remain steadfast in praying for God’s intervention in this situation to heal the sick and comfort the bereaved and above all point many to the amazing hope that we have in Jesus. It is sad to see all the suffering people are going through and the resultant hopelessness in the world today. On Easter Monday I was very saddened to see a middle-aged man who had hanged himself near my sister’s home early in the morning instead of remembering the risen Christ. Many people here depend on a daily wage to feed themselves and their families, but because of the restrictions put in place by the government to combat COVID-19, many people are not able to find work. However, we remain hopeful that soon the Lord will provide the right solution to the problem of this virus.”

David Kariuki, Head of Kisima Pastoralist’s School, Kenya
Watch this video to learn more about the Kisima School

It’s a reminder that we must keep praying for the world and its leaders as much as for ourselves and our leaders in the UK.
With love in the Risen Lord,

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