From the curate

So the Holy Spirit helps us to know that Jesus is with us. The Spirit does not replace Jesus but enables us to know Jesus and the Father. The Spirit will remain with the disciples, and remains with us today. When Jesus says, ‘the world’ cannot receive him, the word ‘world’ means people who are estranged from God. So once we acknowledge God as Father, the Spirit becomes our enabler, our Comforter. One of the dangers of being in lockdown (even if ever so carefully we begin to come out of it) is how we can become self- centred and isolated through being on our own. I’ve read quite a few messages saying what people want, and expect, and I’ve read so many responses such as, ‘it’s not about me’ or, ‘it’s not about you.’ Our current situation is world wide. It’s not only affecting us here in Oxley – it’s much, much bigger than that. Ongoing discussions about how to restart the economy, how schools might be able to operate safely, divide opinions and can cause friction. Actually, some of this seems so unreal. I ‘meet’ with people via a computer screen or an app on my phone. Everything feels virtual and even though I ‘meet’ with people regularly through video conference calls and so on, there are times when I feel isolated. Times when – to be honest – it does feel all about me, because I struggle to relate with people when I can only see their heads, and don’t pick up on the body language of when someone is about to speak in a video call. There are times when I question the reality of living life through a computer screen. In short, I feel out of kilter and life feels out of control. Except that I’m not living my life through a screen, of course. It may feel like it, but as long as I remain open to God – as long as we all remain open to God – we are not in isolation. We are not on our own. And God is in control. In our current circumstances, we may have lost personal contact and we may be more aware of our own needs, yet the help and response from so many people show we are aware of others’ needs. Jesus gives us the reassurance that if we love him, his Spirit will be with us. I’m not talking about sentimental love here, but the commitment of love. The Advocate, the Spirit, ensured that the disciples continued in their relationship with Jesus even when he was no longer physically present. That same Spirit is with us, for ever. This Advocate is not Jesus himself. “You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you,” says Jesus. He is with us forever. The Spirit helps us to understand. It is the presence of God within us, interwoven, like the Celtic knot. So what about us? As we pray in Jesus’ name, we pray through the power of the Holy Spirit. We begin to see what we can do, what is still to be done, and how we might do it – we are not on our own. We are joined with Jesus and God the Father through the Holy Spirit. And as we continue to play our part during this pandemic in whatever way that may be, whether shielding at home, working on the front line, stocking shelves, dispensing in the pharmacy, or staying at home, staying alert, we wait. The meaning of our lives is God’s meaning, not ours. I am reminded of the poem ‘Kneeling’ by R.S.Thomas, which ends, “The meaning is in the waiting.” “You will see me,” promises Jesus. When? We wait. Along with the rest of the world, we wait for hope of a vaccine, we wait for life to return to some sort of new normal. “Prompt me, God; But not yet. When I speak, Though it be you who speak Through me, something is lost. The meaning is in the waiting.” (R.S.Thomas, ‘Kneeling’) We wait for the Spirit of Truth to give us patience, to unite us with the Father, to enable us to keep His commandments, and to know His love. In our stillness, we wait on God. The psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God.” And so we wait. Amen. As ever, you remain in my prayers. Anne
— Janet Taylor
Sun, 17 May 2020