Parish Church of St john the Baptist

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Vicar's Letter

Patrick Hutchinson

 

8th July 2020

Dear Friends,

Over the last few weeks, we’ve undoubtedly seen and heard of some terrible events around the world and the knock-on effects they’ve had in other communities. It’s sometimes shocking and maybe unsurprising to see how one incident can spark a host of others at any time, and especially when millions of people have been cooped-up inside for weeks during the lockdown. Communities have become like pressure cookers and it hasn’t taken much for the lid to blow. I’m in no way condoning violence of any sort, merely saying that one person’s actions may affect another’s. As I mentioned in last week’s letter, when one member suffers, we all suffer (1 Corinthians 12:26); the second half of that verse reads, “…if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it”. Nothing’s changed in the 2,000 years since St.Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthian community –  we cannot live in isolation – what we do will bring about change in others, for good or bad.

One of the most moving photographs I’ve seen in recent weeks is the one printed above showing Patrick Hutchinson carrying Bryn Male. You may recall that during a recent ‘Black Lives Matter’ march, Bryn, a football supporter became separated from his fellow fans. Fearful for his safety, Patrick’s friends formed a protective ring around the man so Patrick could carry him to safety. “We did what we had to do”, Patrick said, “I was just thinking of a human being on the floor. It wasn't going to end well had we not intervened”.

Following major disasters or in times of strife, I’m frequently asked, “Where’s God in all of this?”. This is usually asked in a slightly defensive manner suggesting God’s abandoned us – I should know; I asked a Priest a similar question whilst at school in my mid-teens. It was clearly the start of my rebellious phase and the poor man was getting the brunt of my frustrations! When we think back on this incident last month with Patrick and his friends, it’s crystal clear to see where God was. Patrick was carrying the man to safety, despite the fact that Bryn’s presence in that march was probably as an anti-activist. There was a crisis and Patrick and his friends responded, not pausing to consider creed or colour, they just reacted to a very basic human need with love and compassion. How many times do we read in the Gospels of Jesus doing exactly the same thing? This was one example which received much coverage in the press, but I believe there are numerous cases of love being outpoured up and down the country – we just don’t hear about them all. That’s where God is; he’s in the hearts and souls of men, women and children, just like you and me, everywhere.

As I frequently say, we’re so blessed to live in our beautiful town of Royston, and long before the lockdown there were many charities working hard, dozens of volunteers helping others, neighbours looking-out for folk, to name but a few. However, we’re now in un-chartered territory as we start to see some of the restrictions being lifted. Yet, this in itself is bringing anxiety and caution; together we need to build a ‘new normal’ and I have no doubt that some are going to need more support than others to get through these next few months. Where will God be in Royston in all of this? I pray he will be alive and active in the hearts and souls of all of us, but it may need us to respond in slightly different ways to God’s call now. How we reach out to people now may have to change, but with God’s grace, all things are possible. We are Jesus’ disciples who continue his work on earth for him, and as St. Theresa of Avila wrote;  

Christ has no body now on earth but ours,

no hands but ours,

no feet but ours,

ours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion

are to look out to the earth,

ours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good

and ours are the hands by which He is to bless us now. Amen.

 

Every blessing, Heidi.

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