Living in the Past; Hoping for the Future
Article for the April 2020 edition of the magazine of the Parish of Felixstowe
This edition of the parish magazine is the first one to not be able to be picked up for 30p at the back of either of our churches. Due to the impact of Covid-19 and the closure of churches, it is only available in cyber space. If you have a copy of it in your hands it will only be because a generous fellow parishioner will have printed it for you and left it on your doorstep while they were out on essential business. Thank you to those that are able to do this.
One of the more unusual consequences of the lockdown is that the instruction from the Diocese about churches being kept locked except for an occasional safety inspection came just as I was preparing to climb the church tower to adjust the clock to British Summer Time. This can now only happen after the shutdown has ended so, for the moment, the Parish of Felixstowe is one hour behind the rest of the country. I know people often joke that the Church is a little behind the times but we are now literally ‘Living in the past’.
The Children of Israel, as they struggled on their journey of faith often had to live in the past. They did not heed the commandments of God. They wanted to go their own way. Their neighbouring nations were just more power hungry and destructive. It seems that after the reign of King David and his son Solomon that everything went downhill and the land ‘flowing with Milk and Honey’ became one full of tears and destruction instead.
When this happened, when they found that the present was a vale of tears and they needed hope for the future, they looked to the past. Time and again the Psalmist and the Prophets tell God how they had prospered in the past and so could look with hope to the future confident that a God who had held them then, would carry them through the present trial, and lead them home.
So Habakkuk 3v17-18 says
Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold and there is no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation.
And even Jesus on the cross took Psalm 22 with him which begins;
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
and ends with the triumphant
Future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
We, like Jesus on the Cross feel ‘God forsaken.’
We are at the beginning of a very long Holy Week and Maundy Thursday and Good Friday will not feel the same.
Easter will come and go with little ceremony.
We will not be joining in the ‘Come and Sing Messiah’ in St John’s on Low Sunday
The bright flames of Pentecost may be dimmed.
We do not yet know when we will be able to gather together as the Body of Christ to sing the praises of God and proclaim, ‘Alleluia, Christ is risen’
Yet, even though we may not be able to light the Paschal candle we can, each in our own homes, light a candle and say the Lord’s Prayer every day until the day dawns when we can sing together again.
We will meet again and we will praise God’s Holy Name together.
Until then we will carry each other’s burdens.
We will care for and keep in contact with those who are alone or whose family are far away.
We will stay at home as much as we can to keep each other safe.
Blessings – Andrew