Read Malcolm's from Fromeside's Sermon from last Sunday
A massive thank you to everyone who has contributed to all we have done this week, especially those involved in the service this morning, if you have not seen it please go to the following link: https://www.fromesidechurches.org.uk/messages-resources-for-the-current-crisis/
Special thanks to David and Fr Bob for excellent production in very trying circumstances!!!
Also a 'Massive thank you' to the Messy Church team for all your efforts this month, if you have not visited the site yet please go to: https://fromesidemessychurch.wordpress.com/2020/03/24/example-post-2/
The work they have put in is excellent, and Kandis even managed to edit out my fopar 😇 after playing the song!!!!
Another massive thank you for all the contributions still coming in for the 'Syrian Refugees' appeal, we are nearing £1500 which is amazing you are all stars🌟. There is still time to contribute before the end of the month, either in a BACS payment to the Benefice account or by sending a cheque here to me at the Rectory.
Pete Barnard Head of Frampton C of E has emailed to say, they have plenty of Lunch Provision in school and can help anyone in the local community who is struggling. If you know of anyone please let me know asap as the school is going to start home deliveries on Tuesday of this week.
Please find attached my sermon from today, if you know of anyone who cannot get online please print off and put a copy through their door, equally if you know of anyone who would like a DVD please let me know.
God Bless you all on this sunny Sunday and remember: 'take care out there'.
As a child I was both naughty and bright, a combination that is not uncommon in many youngsters, especially boys! Nothing malicious or unkind, more a desire not to conform and having the ability to figure and argue ways to live out non-compliance with what parents and teachers sought. As my Gran would say ‘He is a very naughty boy, but lovable!’
At the age of 11 this bravado and confidence took a real knock, as I failed the 11plus. In truth I was always a borderline candidate, after all I have to confess, I was not the hardest working of students. However, I wrongly believed that my natural ability as a young mathematician would see me through, after all I had achieved 100% on the test paper and no Grammar school would be stupid enough to turn that sort of potential away would they!
I can still remember being spoken to by my primary school headteacher after the results had come in, whilst my overall mark was high (thanks to the maths) my command of English was just not good enough. Devastation, bye-bye Malmesbury Grammar, hello Wotton Bassett Secondary Mod.
Much more than just being very disappointed, after all we get over disappointments with time don’t we! What this event in my life did was to unleash in me a real doubt in my ability to be a whole and worthwhile member of the human race and imbedded in me a fear of failure, which in later life unleashed a drivenness that still impacts on me to this very day. Even achieving a Master’s Degree from Oxford (a 11plus failures don’t get awarded those do they), even achieving that, alongside at the time having an excellent work consultant, who taught me that 90% was good enough, despite both of these influences, fear and doubt have left their destructive and lasting marks upon me.
Pope Francis in his Easter Sermon, echoed by the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Andrew Marr show, called on us all not to "yield to fear" over Covid 19, calling on us to be "messengers of life in a time of death". Pope Francis said ‘In the midst of suffering, the message that Christ has risen is "the contagion of hope."
The Pope understands all too well the destructive power of fear and its impact on the human condition and our relationships with each other, just think back to the panic buying of several weeks ago which left the very people who were fighting to keep us alive without food and resources. Think only of this week as people burnt down over 20 mobile phone mast in this misguided belief that G5 masts spread the virus!
Alongside fear is doubt which is equally debilitating, it takes away confidence and undermines our ability to deal with the crisis before us. There are risks and we have to take those risks in the knowledge and belief that we are striving to do the best for all.
Sadly, our media often inadvertently fuel doubts, ‘did the Government act to slowly? Why are they telling us there is enough equipment when our Doctors and Nurses are crying out because they don’t have enough?’ What about the Care homes it’s a disgrace!
Now whilst I would be the first to agree there will need to be a public enquiry, and those who have left us unprepared and exposed to deal with this deadly virus will need to be held to account, however, this is not the time for doubts and recrimination, this is the time for togetherness and understanding as a Nation, and I believe most of us get that. We cannot allow our fears, to fuel doubt and as a result undermine love and care, we cannot allow them to displace our very need for hope.
Our Gospel reading this morning reminds us that fear and doubt often hold us back from being whole as humans and as people of faith. Good old doubting Thomas a story we know so well, and one which Jo explores brilliantly on this months Messy Church website, check it out later.
But for a moment this morning in the light of all we are facing put yourself in Thomas’s shoes. As a disciple of Jesus so clearly aware of the horrendous death Our Lord had faced, fearful for his very existence in this hostile atmosphere, frightened that he too might be arrested and killed by the authorities. He was bound to be scared and fear was inevitably going to gnaw away, as it does, at the very foundation of faith and as a result unleash doubt!!!
There is no way Thomas is going to take the word of his fellow apostles, unless he has concrete proof that it is all going to work out alright, he is having none of it. How many of us because we are scared think that we might know better than the authorities as we face this pandemic? There is nothing wrong with questioning and seeking answers, after all to not do so is nothing more than blind faith. However, what is truly required is that we listen to the replies we receive, reflect on them as positively as we can and trust that we will get there in the end.
Thomas gets his answer he literally sees the proof before his very eyes, faith and hope are restored, fear and doubt get relegated to the garbage bin, personal transformation begins, inspiring Thomas in the Love of Christ to be the Apostle who takes the Gospel Message to India and beyond, leading finally to a Martyrs death in Chennai on the 3rd July AD 72.
Now Thomas’s rebuff from our Lord ‘blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’ should be music to our ears. For us 2,000 years on it is our very motivation as we live out in our faith the Gospel of hope and Love.
You will notice a constant echo in my weekly reflections of Faith, Hope and Love, and I make no apology for this, because if we root these three at the heart of our very existence, fear and doubt will be powerless and we as community, as people together will come through this crisis and embrace a new tomorrow.
In Holy week, Jo shared a story with me which expressed how the faith and sacrificial love of someone brought lasting hope to another. Father Giuseppe Berardelli, Parish Priest of Casnigo in Northern Italy, had contracted Covid 19 and was in hospital, his parishioners collected money to fund a ventilator for him, which showed the love they clearly held for him. He in turn expressed his Christ centred love by giving the ventilator to a younger patient in intensive care, who through this act of sacrificial love went on to recover. May Father Giuseppe rest in peace and rise in glory, for he truly understood what it means to love your neighbour, whatever the risk to yourself. His Faith showed no fear and as a result of his Christlike action hope and love shines brightly for the whole world to see, even in this darkest of moments.
My friends, hold onto your faith at this difficult time for all of us, a time which is particularly devastating for families suffering through the health and death of loved ones, particularly challenging for the poor who once again carry the brunt of Covid 19’s impact, particularly debilitating for the lonely and isolated who deprived of human interaction and human touch struggle mentally to cope day by day.
Together, we must not let fear and doubt rob us of the hope and love we have rediscovered these past weeks, as Christians our faith and belief that the Risen Lord is; the way, the truth and the life, must inspire us to enable these God given gifts to have a lasting expression in our very care and love for each other and the neighbour in need knocking at our door.
As St Paul reminds us nothing in all creation, especially fear and doubt, is stronger than the faith, hope, and love freely given to all humanity by God through Christ Jesus our Lord. Holding firmly on to these three we can together dispel the darkness of these days and once again become ‘Children of light’ burning brightly in our world.
Let me conclude this morning in prayer, calling to mind once again the words of Pope Francis.
“May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of His glorious day. A day that knows no end”. Amen