Dear Friends

Dear Friends

Written address from our Minister Revd. Dr. David Pickering.

The long Easter morning

It was the longest of mornings, that began with a heavy heart and planned act of devotional love, as Mary Magdalene made her way ahead of the dawn, to the tomb. We may imagine her feelings, shock and deep sorrow, doubtless tears too. The world, which cheered the one who she followed only last week, had now despatched him. The cross was both brutal and final. Shortly, her anxiety and upset were to grow, for on reaching the tomb, she found the stone rolled aside, and the body that she came to tend, removed. It must have felt the final indignity to one who had personified the love of God.

It took some time for the light to dawn for Mary, for the reality of the resurrection to be recognised. First there was lament, and then waiting, which only then gave way to hope and joy.

Lament is less an event and more a process. It can be lengthy in time and draining of spiritual energy, and yet is a vital facet of the path to hope and new joy. The world is littered with reasons to lament. Lament was, and for some, continues to be experienced as South Africa emerged from the dehumanising regime of apartheid. The process of lament was in part aided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Lament is an ongoing outcome of the Grenfell Tower fire. These are difficult and testing paths, not least when structures of power seem to stand in the way of truth, justice and a measure of restoration.

As I write, the nation has been variously saddened and outraged by the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard. What is a devastating personal tragedy for her family and friends, has also opened up a public, political and passionate set of protests, with a focus on the conduct of men and their attitude towards women.

Lament is a generations-old process. In the Lenten Bible Study, ‘Psalms at Seven’, we’ve noted that of the 150 psalms in the collection, 60 are in the genre of lament. A number of psalms reveal expression of deep angst, which it seems is part of a process that can ultimately lead to a sense of healing. That isn’t necessarily full restoration, but a full acknowledgement of the issues. And in the faith-based psalms, is so often a process of spiritually seeking a response from God. It is a process that may take time, involve waiting, can be underpinned by remembrance of God’s past faithfulness, so giving hope for better days.

The best known of psalms, Psalm 23, tells of shadow-filled valley moments, but is able to conclude in thankful hope:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Most of the Easters that I remember are filled with light, joy, greetings, choruses of hallelujah, daffodils, new life, hope, and dare I say, chocolate. But this Easter is likely to feel different. It is over a year since the nation locked down, a year with much to lament over, and whilst we have looked forward with hope at a number of points, it has also been, and remains, a time of waiting. Perhaps this year is a year to remember that the first Easter didn’t bring unbridled joy at dawn. Rather it started in lament and fear, and it took some time for those feelings to give way to the full recognition of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. May we take comfort from that this Easter, and remember, too, that the Easter journey is not just about a day, but is a season, the hope of which may underpin life.

Through the shadow of these days, may you and all know

Hope beckoning,
New life emerging,
And light shining,
this long Easter morning.

Holy Saturday

Dear Friends, Growing up as a child, I experienced Christmas as a season of wonder, with lights and decorations, gatherings and festivities, celebratory meals and (if I was good), some pressies in a sack at the end of the bed and under the tree. If the weather worked well, as it seemed to more often … Continue reading Holy Saturday

Reading

I wrote in the worship Sheet for Sunday 31st January about ‘Butterflies, Books and Beginnings’, conveying that just as reading a factual or fictional book may start introducing a situation, setting and characters, before leading us on a journey, so do each of the gospels. Through reading we may gain new insights, and find our … Continue reading Reading

Favourites

Dear Friends I love listening to BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Disc programme, in which a guest, herein after called a ‘castaway’ selects 8 recordings which are favourite or significant for them, whilst also sharing insights into their life’s journey. The programme is 79 years old this month, and still gains good ratings. Perhaps, you … Continue reading Favourites

Gloaming?

As I write in late October, the scene outside my Glasgow window is of gathering gloom, or as is said in these parts, evening gloaming, meaning twilight. With the clocks having retreated an hour, the northern night falls increasingly early as autumn turns into winter. Experiencing fewer hours of winter darkness and more hours of … Continue reading Gloaming?

Induction

By the time of the next edition of Emmanuel Life you will have your new minister living and serving amongst you.  What a strange year it has been with all the additional challenges which the pandemic has brought and what a strange and challenging time to be taking up a new ministry with so many … Continue reading Induction

Lockdown reflections

As we move into a new phase of restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 I have reflected on my experiences so far. When lockdown began, I thought that I would miss the variety and busyness of my life. So was surprised when I did not miss regular trips to the theatre or live music … Continue reading Lockdown reflections

From Revd. David Pickering

Dear friends already met and friends to be made, I was deeply touched to receive your call to be your new minister. Through the course of our encounters, I too, felt a genuine sense of call on my heart, and so was very glad to accept your invitation to serve as your new minister. It … Continue reading From Revd. David Pickering

Love and Good Wishes

It is traditional at this time of year for this letter to give our love and good wishes to all the young people moving up to a new year at school, or to a new college, or – particularly exciting – to university or the world of work.  But we all know that this year … Continue reading Love and Good Wishes

New Normal

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8  This is what God asks of us both during lockdown and as we look towards the future mission priorities of the church. Since the restrictions on assemblies and public worship were … Continue reading New Normal

Worship

Last month, both in his pastoral letter and secretary’s notes, Ian referred to us thinking about what might be different going forwards, rather than rushing back to what used to be normal. Now shops have reopened people are being encouraged to go out and spend just as they were before, but in church we are … Continue reading Worship

I Am the New Year

How are you keeping in these strange times?  Is it hard keeping track of the days of the week, especially when a bank holiday Monday fell on a Friday? Yesterday was day zero.  The day when the number of new confirmed cases in London was zero for the first time. [The figures may get revised … Continue reading I Am the New Year