Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
I was going to give up listening to and reading the news more than once a day for the duration of Lent. That commitment has gone out the window! However, I am aware that limiting how many times I go online or to the news networks for the latest updates is actually a healthy and helpful thing to do. It is far too tempting to be listening to the news all day long.
The words above were written by Paul to the church in Rome. Paul understood that the root of a lot of evil in the world begins with how we think. And how we think is influenced very much by what we spend our time listening to, reading about, conversing about.
It is important for each of us to know what is happening locally and globally with this pandemic. I'm not suggesting we ignore the news. However, unlimited amounts of it will cultivate within us fear and anxiety and provoke such behaviours as hoarding, emotional isolation and worst of all, despair. This is not the way of Christ.
So, as you listen to the news, please also take time every day to fill your minds and thus your hearts with hope and love and charity. Spend some time reading scripture, meditating on the essentials of your faith, struggling with what you believe, growing in your understanding of God and God's love for the world. It's not an easy practice at the best of times, and a challenging one when life brings great difficulties. To struggle with your faith, to wrestle with what you believe about God is not a sign of lack of faith, rather it is a sign of hope - it means we are engaged with God and the Spirit and will be led to new places of hope, faith and love.
We encourage you to heed the advice of government and health officials. Please stay home as much as possible. If you are needing things picked up and delivered, please let us know so we can see if we can help find someone to asisst you.
And remember that you are being prayed for everyday. I pray for the whole parish and I pray for each of you by name, going through the parish list. I pray for your families.
I know that many of you are reaching out to each other. Phil and I are intending to do the same, whether by phone or email. We are both, surprisingly, quite busy. If you haven't heard from us and would like a pastoral chat via phone, do not hesitate to reach out to us.
Many of you are sharing some lovely online resources with me and I want to share them more broadly. We will continue to share information and resources as much as we can to aid you in your own spiritual journey.
I send this to you today with prayers for peace and health and hearts of faith to sustain you.
A prayer from the Lutheran World Federation (see attached file below)
Lent Madness - great resource with lots of links
St. James Cathedral Live Stream - Link to Diocese Facebook page and future links for Live Stream services
And keep an eye out tomorrow for the Lenten Meditation Group sending out an at-home practice for you to explore.