Pastoral Letter

So….the world seems to have turned upside down!  

This is a serious letter and yet I ask you to bear with me and read on to the end.

Many of us are at home, some are not able to work, some are self-isolated because of underlying health conditions. Our children are not at school. Others are finding that life is difficult for numerous reasons. Our essential service colleagues are working hard to care for us in so many ways and sometimes putting their own health at risk in doing so.

What are your feelings about all of this?  Some are clearly afraid, feeling alone and apprehensive. Others are distressed by the circumstances in which we find ourselves. There is some anger that arrangements have to be altered and a whole lifestyle seems to be under threat. It is all so inconvenient to say the least.

If you can get beyond the emotional impact, what are your thoughts at this time? How will I pay the bills? How can I re-organize my life and help my nearest and dearest? How can I help others? What can I do? Even, will I survive this catastrophe? Will those I love and care about survive?

It isn’t often that we are almost forced to look deeper into ourselves if we dare.

It isn’t often that we find ourselves going underneath the surface and beyond the superficial.

It isn’t often that we are in a situation that challenges us to look more closely at our lives.

I am very aware that those who may happen to read this will be of all types, have differing political opinions, beliefs, values and convictions. You will all have widely differing circumstances and yet I would ask you to think about what is most important to you.

The world seems to have turned upside down! 

Whatever your situation or beliefs, this might just be the time to consider the witness of someone who was said to have turned the world the world upside down himself. He expressed attitudes and convictions, and demonstrated values which were confirmed by his actions. They are often in stark contrast to those of many of us today. Christians and non-Christians alike usually can agree that Jesus is the best role model to have (especially in our circumstances). From His faith, perseverance, generosity, and even His intelligence, people see the best qualities that humankind can possess.

He was compassionate.

He never looked away from people. In the 8 Saints parishes our congregations are doing their best to keep an eye out for others and their needs...something we can all do a little more at this time.

Without a doubt, Jesus was the ultimate servant of others.

Although He was praised as a great teacher and even had a decent following, He made sure to teach them to be servants by actually doing it himself. In Mark 10:45, Jesus even tells everyone:“the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” Although people praised and sometimes pampered him, He did the exact opposite by lowering himself and serving others. We need to think about our behaviour and not be self centred.  

Obviously, Jesus had a love for others.

If He didn’t, He wouldn’t be compassionate nor a servant. Jesus claimed that there is no greater love than to die for one of your friends—and He did just that. If anyone doubts His love, all they have to do is look upon the cross and see the agony that He bore for their sakes. He experienced that horrible death so that all can be saved. That, very clearly, is true love at its finest. We all need to express our love for others at this time and not to hold back.

Jesus is forgiving. This is definitely contrary to the everyday mantra of looking out for number one and obtaining personal justice. Jesus was by no means concerned for His own life. Today especially in our current circumstances we all need reach out to others and make our peace with them. Bitterness kills and life is too short to hold grudges. It’s not easy for us to let them go but necessary for us all and even for our world. If you need to speak to a priest then look at the 8 Saints website for contact details – it may have to be by telephone or other media.

Jesus had no lack of commitment whatsoever. Wherever He was, or whoever He was with, He was fully in the moment and fully committed to His goals of promoting a society that he called ‘the Kingdom’. Maybe you can think ahead and resolve to make this a better world? What sort of world do you hope for? Now is the time to re-assess. There were certainly many obstacles during the ministry of Jesus , but He stayed on track and finished strong. We all need to hold fast to our basic values even when it is hard going

No matter how busy His ministry got, He found time to be alone and pray.

The majority of the Churches of the 8 Saints Cluster will be open at some time during each week, whilst we are allowed to. Advice is changing all the time though. There will be no services, however they are places of refuge from the current anxieties where you can sit maybe pray, light a candle and hopefully get things in perspective. You don’t have to be a Christian or a believer to sit and reflect on where you are at in life. Look at the 8 Saints website for resources to help you pray.

There were certainly times when Jesus used stern words, but He knew when gentleness was appropriate. Children seemed to love coming to him, and He made sure the disciples knew not to hinder them when they did so. When speaking with His disciples, his mother, or others, He could be very kind-hearted and gentle. But, when He was giving someone a rebuke or making a point in an argument, He knew when turning up the heat was necessary and only did so strategically. Lets bear this in mind in our encounters and speak to truth in love and be helpful to one another if possible. Criticism without responsibility is just too easy.

Throughout the gospels, Jesus clearly gets portrayed as a very patient man. After all, He was surrounded by disciples who constantly doubted him, there were those who continually attacked Him, and large crowds who wouldn’t leave Him alone. Despite all of that, He kept His composure and responded appropriately to every individual. We are all tempted to be very impatient at times with the authorities who are trying to help at this difficult time….patience is very necessary just now.

Jesus exercised self-control. Before His ministry was launched, we read that Jesus spent time being tempted in the wilderness. Although He was offered food, power, and other things, Jesus controlled His desires and submitted them all to the will of the God. Even if you don’t believe in God you might think about higher values and resist the lesser ones, thinking of the long term and what sort of world you would want to live in.

Jesus had humility. He seems to have had every opportunity and right to demand praise and accolades but He never did! Even when the crowds sought to make Him king, He rushed away from their grasp. He did not want to become a sideshow performance that people could enjoy. Rather, He wanted to seek and save the lost and be forgiving. He could have travelled around in order to show off His powers in other towns, but He chose not to. We are all in this together, it will not help if we are doing it for praise or honours but for the cause of all of humankind.

Final Thoughts. The world seems to have turned upside down!  Maybe we need to change ourselves as we face up to COVID-19? The world doesn’t need more role models, it needs us all, whoever we are, believer and unbeliever alike to be more like Jesus—the ultimate role model. He is the most human of humans and someone who shared our humanity in full with all its pain and its joy. People will not find a better person to emulate positive character traits from than Jesus Christ himself. But then, I would say that wouldn’t I?

Fr. John, Pastoral Consultant to the 8 Saints Parishes of Carharrack, Chacewater, Devoran, Feock, Gwennap, Perran-ar-Worthal, St Day and Stithians