As part of the Clergy team for the Diocese of Leeds, I regularly receive supportive words from our Bishops and their teams. As we are slowly emerging from the physical restrictions that coronavirus started, I thought you might also find this extract from Bishop Nick Baines’ latest letter encouraging for you too:
…from Bishop Nick Baines
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Some years ago I tried to sum up in the length of a tweet the difference Christian faith makes. From about a dozen formulations, the one that stuck in my mind (and which I have subsequently used a lot) is simply this: “Christians are drawn by hope, not driven by fear.” Not surprisingly, I have come back to this during the current pandemic and the demands it has made on all of us.
The point is this: what we experience now is neither ultimate nor the last word; time will move on and stuff will happen; however, Christian faith is rooted not in formulae for our wellbeing or convenience, but, rather, in the person of the God who raised Christ from the dead. In other words, our trust is in God, not in events.
This, after all, is the whole point of the Christian gospel. In creation God brings order out of chaos, calling those made in his image to run the risks of doing the same. The subsequent mess is not surprising. Yet:
- Christmas is about God opting into the chaos of the world and not exempting himself from what being mortal, material, contingent beings involves.
- At Easter we see the consequence of this commitment to the world; yet, “God surprises earth with heaven” as the contingency of the world is demonstrated to be limited in power: death is overcome after being endured.
- The Ascension sees the risen Christ asking his friends to get out of the audience and onto the stage – to take responsibility for living in the world now in the light of what has been done in Jesus and what is to come in resurrection in the future.
- At Pentecost his friends are empowered to get on with it, whatever the cost.
…as we emerge from lockdown: This is a process, not an event. Which is why we need to hopeful and pragmatic, bold and confident. Anxieties about the next few weeks and months are understandable, but should not be allowed to intimidate or drive us. Hope, realism, honesty and cooperation should be our watchwords.