Brett Valley Benefice Pastoral Letter – January 2022

The past year had been one that we thought might be better than the year before. With the rollout of the coronavirus vaccines, there was a hope at last we would be able to fight against this pandemic. Millions have had vaccines and yet the last year has been and remains a bit of a roller coaster. We have had a chance to have holidays and meet family and friends in a way we could not the previous year. Though we have entered this year again with a return of some restrictions due to the ‘Omicron’ variant. As with any year we start our new year without really knowing what is in front of us.

Whilst we are in theory able to remain open for public worship at present, currently each of our six benefice churches have had to comply with the government updated restrictions for places of worship. This will hopefully reduce the risk of the virus being transmitted, and further strain being placed upon our local health service. I realise that for some of us this will feel extremely frustrating, whilst for others it may be a welcome relief. Either way, let us continue to do all that we can to support one another, and others, through this time with our phone calls, emails, and prayers, especially for those who will feel too vulnerable to attend out services.

Many people will feel very worried and concerned about their futures and really concerned what the future holds for all of us. Many years ago when I was twenty-one years old a Christian friend gave me this text from the book of Joshua in the Old Testament. “Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I was going through a period of feeling very fearful about my future. This verse helped me really reflect on how God is with us even at the most challenging times of our life. We will worry about many things but there are things that we can do to help one another and the planet to help bring about a better future. Yes, we need to recognise and comply with current regulations to help keep each other safe. We heard more about global warming in 2021, what can we do personally to help reduce climate change. Can we also help those less fortunate than
ourselves for whatever reason, in helping support the food bank and other charities as well as those we know who live in our local villages.

What difference does a hope based on faith in God make to how we respond to all those issues. When we feel anxious about anything we can pray asking God to deal with it. Every time we feel that worry coming back to niggle us, we can just pray, “Into your hands, Lord, I commit this worry”. Then we will find a growing sense of peace and serenity. We learn to trust God with the important things only if we start with the small ones. Peace of mind about life, with all its challenges, only comes with trust, with faith that the universe is friendly, because it is God’s universe, the God who is Love, shown to us by Jesus. We can only find that out for ourselves by choosing to give it a try!

I wish you all a “Happy and Blessed Safe New Year for 2022”.
Revd Elke