A Time of Transition, by Pippa Bonner

It seems as though we are in an in-between place…

It seems as though we are in an in- between place between Lockdown and some further loosening of the Covid restrictions. Vaccination programmes are progressing. The Covid figures in the UK are steadily lower. It is likely more restrictions will be lifted on May 17th, and June 21, which may or may not make your life less restrictive. We may be able to come out of our houses and see people and places we haven’t seen for a long time. For some it will be a release. For others it might seem quite an anxious time. Walking out of the door, seeing other people – whether friends or strangers, sharing a pavement or shop or cafe space may seem a little daunting if we have been confined to home, garden or local spaces.

The period between Easter and Pentecost seems an interim, in-between period for us and the followers of Jesus in the Scriptures

Living in 2021, we read the New Testament unfolding, knowing that although Jesus died, he was then resurrected and ascended to heaven. Then the Holy Spirit, the great Enabler, Inspirer and Courage-Maker came at Pentecost. The Apostles (or Disciples, in Fr Nicholas King’s translation notes, which includes a greater number of unnamed women and men who had followed Jesus), were inspired and emboldened to speak out, some to work miracles, preach, travel and build up small Christian communities, despite Roman occupation and fear of the Jewish authorities and of diseases like leprosy, one of the plagues of the time.

During the in- between period before the Ascension and Pentecost, there were a number of sightings of Jesus, but Jesus’ appearance had somehow changed so he was not usually immediately recognised. Once recognised, people could see he bore the signs of the cross and ate fish – so was not a ghost.

He could still teach and encourage them. Initially, Mary Magdalene had literally tried to hold onto him. He had discouraged that as he was no longer physically and constantly going to be in their lives: living and working with them, in the same way as before… They were going to have to continue the work and proclaim the Good News without his human presence alongside them. They huddled together inside an Upper Room before Pentecost as they were uncertain and afraid about what would happen next.

Jesus’ relationship with his Disciples changed to a deeper, spiritual one, at Pentecost and they began to face the outside world with confidence, hope and less anxiety.

I sometimes wonder how often they regretted not really understanding so many things he was trying to tell them about God before the Crucifixion, about the Eucharist, the meaning of his parables and so many other things. How frequently did Christ say he would “die” and about his plans for them and others and they didn’t understand him? This in- between time was a time when they could recognise him, regret what they hadn’t understood, be forgiven, reflect, regroup and recover before Pentecost.

Like the Disciples in this in- between time between Easter and, Pentecost and for us the hoped for further easing of Covid restrictions in May and June, some of us may be traumatised by recent events, bereaved, isolated and anxious about the future. We may also be relieved and hopeful for the further unlocking of Covid restrictions.

We may each feel all kinds of emotions which can vary depending on our experience, outlook and what has happened to us, our families and friends.

Like Mary Magdalene’s initial reaction, we may want to hold on to life as before. We may need to touch the reality of the new situation like Thomas who needed to experience seeing Jesus and touch the new reality for himself. Or, like Peter be given the chance to make amends and seek forgiveness for denying Jesus three times. He was now allowed to say he loved Jesus three times. We may have been left with betrayals, regrets, unkind words and deeds and other unfinished business that we have been unable to resolve because of Covid restrictions. We too are given another chance!

We too are given Pentecost strength and inspiration to go out and build up our and other people’s lives in whatever way we can.

We all have gifts that we can share by phone or card even if we remain restricted by our circumstances….

Transition times can be lonely, anxious and periods of struggle and self -reflection. They can also be powerful places to prepare for new possibilities, spiritual gifts and joy.

Some parts of our past life may have changed because of Covid, and we may be grieving for what we have lost and suffered. Other parts of the world are suffering deeply now. We all try to believe that this new reality as we move forward, through, and hopefully, come safely out of the Covid restrictions, may become a time of settling down, recovery and some hope for us all.

Pippa Bonner, May 2021.

‘Remembering with Hope’ – join our online service Tues 23rd March at 7pm

An online service to remember our loved ones.

On the anniversary of the first lockdown, join with us to commemorate loved ones that have died during this past year and remember them with Hope.

We feel it is important to mark the date of the start of the first lockdown with a reflective service giving space to remember those we know who have passed away over the last year (whatever the reason).

So a team of us at the Elizabeth Prout Bereavement Care (The Briery) and Growing Old Grace-fully have joined together to hold this online service , which will include:

  • Prayers
  • Readings of Scripture
  • Music
  • Time in small groups to share briefly about loved ones, celebrating their life
  • An Act of Remembering together – photos to be put on a tree at The Briery, names to be read out, and we light a candle together.

If you would like to, you will be able to send the name and/or a photo of your loved one to be printed and put on the Tree of Remembrance in the chapel at The Briery where they will be kept displayed and prayed for until Easter. We would also like to display the names on the screen during the service.

Instructions about this will be sent by email after you REGISTER for the event.

Let’s join together to mark this day with remembrance and hope.

‘Healer of all Hurts, how long?’ – A Lament by Jon Swales

Father God,
Healer of All Hurts.

We come to you in our hour of need saying.

How Long? O Lord.
How Long?

We find our ourselves caught up in the storm of Covid.
We feel stranded and alone,
Cut off from those we love.

How Long? O Lord.
How Long.

We face shipwreck and catastrophe,
Battered and bruised by the storm of this pandemic.

Our nation is in peril,
Our NHS is stretched,
Our Souls feel anxious and afraid.

How Long? O Lord.
How Long?

Healer of all hurts,
We come to you in our hour of need pleading.

That you would still the wind and waves,

And act,
And move,
And comfort,
And heal,
And embrace us in your healing hands.

Covenant God,
Father of Lights,
We bring before your tender love.

Those who are sick,
Lord have mercy, Christ Have mercy.

Front Line workers for protection and resilience,
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

For energy and patience for those homeschooling,
Lord have mercy, Christ Have mercy.

For the vulnerable and those shielding,
Lord have mercy, Christ Have mercy.

For ourselves in our boredom, frustration and anxiety.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

Father God,
Healer of All Hurts.
We come to you in our hour of need praising you,
That you do not leave us,
or forsake us.
You have shown your love to us in Jesus.

Covenant God,
Father of Lights,
We come to you in our hour of need praising you,
That there is not a hurt you will not heal.
Nor a tear you will not wipe away.
You have shown your love to us in Jesus.

We praise you that in Jesus is a balm to soothe our souls.
We praise you that in Jesus there is always hope.
We praise that in Jesus all will be well.

Until that day,
We Weep and Pray.

How Long? O Lord,
How Long?

Written by Rev Jon Swales, January 2021

Jon is Lighthouse Mission Priest (C of E) at Lighthouse West Yorkshire, which is is a fresh expression of church and registered Leeds-based charity which reaches out to those who are battered and bruised by the storms of life.

Find out more on their website.

The Calming of the Storm Mark 4: 35-41

A reading and reflection by Pippa Bonner

At the hospital where I am a volunteer on the Chaplaincy Team I sometimes ask a patient if s/he would like a Scriptural reading as part of the Eucharistic Liturgy. If they do not have a preference I often offer The Calming of the Storm where Jesus calmed the waves. It is written out in full further down the page.

I think the ups and downs of the stormy waves can sometimes reflect a Patient’s experience. The up and down of the waves perhaps images the ups of hope, recovery and good and compassionate care. The downs might be about pain, anxiety and uncertainty. I will usually listen and chat to a person first and try to get a glimpse of how they are without probing, and how much energy they have, before offering a Reading.

However if they would like to read or hear the Calming of the Storm I encourage them to imagine themselves in the scene, which is in the tradition of Ignatian spirituality. Are they in the boat with Jesus? Perhaps they see themselves in another boat, in the sea itself or on land watching the scene? I never ask them what they have chosen. And though the story is a familiar one to many, placing oneself in the scene doesn’t suit everyone.Jesus might seem a little severe at one point in the story, but is he taking command of a difficult situation and perhaps encouraging his disciples to wonder who he is? Personally I believe that Jesus, human and divine, as human, although compassionate, got tired and frustrated that the disciples were still untrusting and not apparently becoming aware of who he might be? Now, we are encouraged to believe the divine, Resurrected Christ unconditionally loves us and understands our fear and doubt at times when we are anxious and uncertain..

In the Corona Virus time of anxiety and uncertainty I offer this Reading to you. This translation is from The Jerusalem Bible.

                             The Calming of the Storm  (Mark 4: 35-41)

With the coming of evening Jesus said to his disciples ” Let us cross over to the other side.”  And leaving the crowd behind him, they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, “Master, do you not care? We are going down.” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea: ” Quiet now! Be calm!” And the wind dropped and all was calm again. Then he said to them: “Why are you so frightened? How is it you have no faith?” They were filled with awe and said to one another:  “Who can this be? Even the wind and sea obey him?”