Pastoral Letter

Friday, 23rd October 2020


Dear Friends,

I wonder if any of you have seen a picture of the latest Banksy artwork sprayed onto a brick wall behind a broken bike locked to a signpost? You may not like graffiti, but his creativity is certainly to be admired. The bike may be broken but the girl can still be creative playing hula hoop with the tyre. It is like Banksy is trying to say we are living in broken times, let's try and make the most of the opportunities we have.

I love this time of year as autumn heralds in a riotous explosion of colour, as the landscape is transformed again, as trees turn golden, squirrels scamper around gathering up nuts, and creation bursts into a final flourish of colour before the winter. It reminds me of how creative our Creator God is, like a young child having fun making bold paintbrush strokes across the canvas of creation. In Psalm 19.1 the psalmist declares “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (NIV) - just the start of a psalm of praise to our creator. Yet, as much as I am in awe of creation in autumn my mind is also aware that the evenings are drawing in, the weather is getting colder and the gloom of winter is not far away - made even worse as we head into a winter of closures and restrictions because of the Covid pandemic. Or that can be my attitude if I allow it.

I was listening to the radio the other day and the host was sharing the thoughts of a psychologist who had come to the conclusion that people’s reaction to the pandemic fitted into 3 categories. Firstly there is Denial about what is happening around us; then Anxiety sets in as we watch the media headlines and rising numbers, then the 3rd category is Acceptance. There is a process here as people move on in their discernment of what is happening and I am guessing many of us are still in the middle phase of being anxious. Acceptance is not about ignoring it but realising that we are going to have to live with the coronavirus and the restrictions that come with it for some time to come. We can be resigned to it with a sense of doom and gloom or accept our current situation and try to make the most of what comes and to look for opportunities to respond creatively.

I notice in John’s gospel chapter 14, having already told his disciples he would be betrayed, Jesus prepares them for the trauma they are about to experience and he encourages them to trust him. In v27 he says “ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (NRSVA) He is encouraging them to move on from denial and anxiety and acceptance what is going to happen to him. Sometimes God has a greater purpose beyond what we can comprehend in the moment.

We were reflecting in the first meeting of the Circuit Worship Our Calling group about the importance of creativity as a way of expressing ourselves spiritually. That does not mean we have to be a Banksy, or a gifted poet or painter, but we can all express ourselves in creative ways, as a release from the gloom. Our creative output, whether a prayer, poem, card or something knitted can also be used to encourage others.

In these coming days as many of us move into Tier 3 of the government’s Covid response, let us choose to trust in God’s plan despite the chaos, remembering how we say in the Lord’s Prayer “Thy will be done”, choosing to accept where we are now and to respond in a way that honours God who extravagantly created us and shapes the world around us.

Revd Mike Grimsley
Glossop Central, Hadfield, Trinity Audenshaw LEP, West End