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Pastoral Letter written 2nd March 2021 by Rev’d David Bintliff Dear Sisters, Brothers and Friends,

We continue to move through this season of lent, with both signs of hope to come and the uncertainty that this season offers to us also. With a week to go until the 12-month anniversary of two of our buildings being closed to public worship, it has been a chance to consider and reflect on the nature of the patterns of worship and teaching we have, until this point, offered and what we offer as we transition back to a normality.

It will not be long before we look to move back towards the use of our buildings for public worship, but before that time, I must encourage members to recognise that the mission of our churches has not ceased simply because we have not been meeting within the buildings. The mission of God has continued, and members have played their part in that mission, both in ways that have been easy to spot and others that have been lower key, but mission does continue, and the Gospel is being proclaimed! Further, people are hearing the Good News and responding to it.

But moreover, we need to remind ourselves what the Good News is, it isn’t that we have a cosy spot on a Sunday morning to sit, nor that soon our favoured hymn will be able to be sung once again, it is that the God who created all things cared so much for each one of us as to journey this difficult path of life, go through pain of human existence and suffer death in such a demeaning way for each one of us. That God would undertake such an event for the whole of creation is one thing, but to consider that God would have gone through it all just to offer that relationship to you alone is astounding. Now the way in which we choose to express that limitless love of God may be different within the contexts we find ourselves within, but as we look to return to our places of worship, let us not forget the places of service and evangelism that we have been present to and that will open as society once again comes out of this dormancy.

As we look to our future, our resources will be much more stretched, the Circuit will shortly be considering the staffing levels capable within the Circuit for ordained clergy, our congregations have been knocked by a number of significant deaths and our financial situations are not great to say the least, we will have to think, pray and engage in the action of mission we clarity and purpose, being open to the wild goose of the Spirit, while recognising that as God calls for one action to begin another will have to go left unattended. And yet I hope you can take heart that God is not done with us yet, there are more days ahead, more chances to express the love of God, more ways to speak of his justice and mercy and more ways to celebrate with one another to come than we can consider. Hope is not found in timetables and calendared dates, but in the God of all things who will ask much of us, but who gives greatly to all who call upon his name.

This week’s message is hard, because it asks us to live as people of hope in a time that has been dark for so many. Yet we are called to be those who recognise that the kingdom is coming and is at hand. I continue to thank you for your care for one another, which through this last year has helped many keep the faith.

Yet for now, every blessing and much love in Christ. Yours, always, David