27 May June 2021
NEWSLETTER – JUNE 2021
Welcome to the latest edition of our Parishes’ Newsletter. Well, we are slowly uncurling and able to go out and about to more places, if we wish, though uncertainty continues to surround us. Will further restrictions be lifted nationally during June, or not? At what point will further relaxation of our Covid safe practices be deemed appropriate by the Church of England? As we wait, let’s be thankful for the blessings we have been able to re-engage with – that we can meet together as worshipping communities, we can visit each other or meet for a chat, we can travel around this lovely area and we have valued health and research facilities here which are enabling our progress. MB
Revd. Lynn Grove writes:
As I write this, it’s now 7 weeks since Easter – the Feast of Pentecost. All our Christian festivals have seemed strange during the pandemic; in 2020 there were no Easter celebrations in church at all. Christmas was strangely muted, as most planned family parties were cancelled yet again, and we all knew lockdown 2 was imminent.
It was good to be back in church for Easter, but again joy seemed elusive. I sensed that for many people, the joy of resurrection was a memory rather than a reality. I was drawn to one of the mystics in my search for joy: Julian of Norwich, who also lived through a pandemic, the Black Death. This pandemic killed 50 million people, 60 percent of the population in England and Europe in the 1300’s, and it is regarded as the greatest catastrophe in recorded history. The disease was carried by fleas and rats, and passed on from person to person. It wiped out many towns, cities, hospitals and monasteries. Individuals usually only lived 23 days between contact and death. The plague was particularly disastrous in 1346-1353, but returned time and time again through the 1300’s.
Julian was born in Norwich in 1342, and was probably schooled in a Benedictine monastery. In 1373 she became ill and came close to death. A parish priest was called to give her the last rites, and it is recorded that her mother closed her eyelids in anticipation of her imminent death. In this near-death state, she experienced a series of 16 visions gazing at a crucifix held up by the priest. After her illness she subsequently wrote a short text about her unexpected recovery. And many years later Julian wrote a longer text outlining these visions and spiritual revelations during her illness, entitled Revelations of Divine Love. It is the first book in the English language known to have been written by a woman.
In Julian’s 14th century world of unrest and the Black Death, many people tried to ’make sense’ of the terrible events that were unfolding. This was an age when catholic religious practice was pretty universal: God was a God of judgement and retribution to many people, and the church undoubtedly used fear of Hell as a controlling force. There were monks who went from town to town, whipping themselves in an attempt to seek God’s pardon for the sinfulness of the world, which they thought was the cause of the plague. There were those who said this was the end of the world, which led some to party in drunken orgies – ‘Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die’. Others simply despaired, sinking into apathy, thinking that God had finally deserted them. Some blamed ‘nature’ – the natural world: “Every time I go into nature I withdraw from God”, said the theologian Thomas a Kempis.
We perhaps are less extreme in our beliefs, but for all of us, there is a sense of confusion and helplessness, at least. Into all this, Julian speaks of a God of tenderness, a God of compassion and love. When the world is being crushed with fear and pessimism, Julian speaks of joy. She saw God as both Father and Mother, and she saw God’s creation as to be honoured. “God rejoices in his creation and creation rejoices in God. They are endlessly marvellous to each other. In the act of marvelling, we behold our God – our Beloved, our Maker – utterly exalted” she wrote. For Julian, every part of Creation is imbued with goodness – including you and me, and every other being, human or otherwise. It takes us back to the beginning: “God saw everything he had made, and it was very good” Genesis 1:31.
And there was goodness even in the appalling time Julian lived through. Some people tried their utmost to help those who were suffering, at serious risk to themselves, because there was no medical treatment for that pandemic, though their actions seem to have had no theological backing, but came out of goodness of heart. For Julian, the goodness shone in the darkness, and defeated it, as John ch.1 tells us so beautifully.
There is goodness and self-sacrifice in our time of pandemic also. When we see it, we rejoice. Trusting in God’s goodness, seeing it in all his Creation, knowing ourselves part of it – how can we not feel joy and hope? I do believe in the truth of Julian’s most famous quote: “All will be well, and all will be very well”.
We live in uncertain times of great change for the world, and for our church locally and nationally. May this time of Pentecost when we rejoice in the gift of the Holy Spirit bring new hope to each one of us, and to our church. Let’s resolve not to be crushed with pessimism, but to feel the joy that Julian knew in the sheer goodness of God.
Prayers for your use
(from ‘The book of a 1000 prayers’, ed. Angela Ashwin)
Lord, you lead us by ways we do not know, through joy and sorrow, through victory and defeat, beyond our understanding. Give us faith to see your guiding hand in all things; that being neither lifted up by seeming success, nor cast down by seeming failure, we may press forward wherever you lead, to the glory of your name. Amen.
Lord, make us people of stillness. Help us to be empty before you, that we may be filled with your peace; teach us to be quiet in your presence, that we may listen to your words; and give us confidence to expose our whole being to you, and meet you in the silence. Amen.
O God, make the door of this church wide enough to receive all who need human love and fellowship, but narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride, strife. Make it a threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling-block to children, nor to straying feet, but strong enough to turn back the tempter’s power. God, make this church a gateway to your eternal kingdom. Amen.
Special service with the Bishop of Whitby
In addition to the Sunday service rota below, there is a special service at 7pm at St Andrew’s, Middleton on Thursday 10th June with the Bishop of Whitby to mark Rev Rob’s formally becoming incumbent of our two large Parishes. Due to Covid 19 social distancing requirements, attendance at this service, like all our services, will be limited due to space. Unfortunately, therefore, on this occasion, attendance is by invitation only. Please remember Rob in your prayers as he makes this further step in his ministry here. MB
Church Services for June
6th June (Trinity 1)
9.30am Newton – Holy Communion,
10.00am Great Habton – Sunday Half-hour
10.00am Salton – Holy Communion
11.00am Middleton – Methodist tradition
6.15pm Sinnington – Joint Evening service in CHAPEL
13th June (Trinity 2)
9.00am Kirby Misperton – Holy Communion
11.00am Middleton – Holy Communion
6.00pm Normanby – Holy Communion
20th June (Trinity 3)
*9.30am* Sinnington – Holy Communion *note start time*
11.00am Great Habton – Morning Prayer
6.00pm Butterwick – Holy Communion
27th June (Trinity 4)
9.00am Kirby Misperton – Holy Communion
11.00am Middleton – Holy Communion
6.00pm Salton – Evening Prayer