Thank God for unexpected blessings

This week’s letter has been written by Rev Helen Everard.

Dear Friends,

From Monday 15th to Wednesday 17th March I was at the URC Mission Council meeting on Zoom. One of my jobs as chaplain to the Moderators of General assembly, (Clare Downing and Peter Pay) is to arrange worship for both Mission Council and General Assembly.

It’s all been on Zoom since I began and that in itself has challenges. At one stage, Peter’s broadband was not up to speed and he emailed me his sermon, just in case he dropped out without warning. Technology helped us even as other technology wavered. I didn’t have to deliver the sermon, thank goodness – by turning off his camera, we were able to hear Peter.

I used a Lent meditation about journeying during another worship session. It seemed to speak to the situation we all find ourselves in, whether we are thinking about ourselves, our local churches, synods or the URC. (It is available to read after this letter.) We do not have a map of where to go. We remember that in past journeys we made mistakes through not asking for directions. Now, however, there seem to be no directions.

This is not true, however. God is with us as always. We are not travelling in familiar ways anymore but that does not mean we have no direction. It means rather that we must listen for God’s voice and not be afraid if we are steered into changed places and unfamiliar paths. God’s spirit has always come as a breath of wind, bringing challenge, change and new life. The enforced period of waiting which we have all endured has not meant that the Church has ceased to worship and witness to God’s saving power. Everyone has experienced connection to a local fellowship in different ways. People have not been shut out of our churches by service times and availability. Many have been able to connect to faith communities unlimited by distance.

On Easter morning last year, I used the gift I had received from Woking URC to do something I had not dreamed of. I used the home communion set to celebrate a family communion at our breakfast table. Normally our family has many commitments on Easter Day, at different churches. My husband is a practising Roman Catholic and sings in the choir. My son is the music worship leader at High Cross church in Camberley. I am now a minister at Wonersh URC and my daughter Laura might go to church with any of us, or ask to go to worship with you at Woking. But because of lockdown I had the huge privilege of breaking bread with my family, with the help of your gift.

Thank you all again for a gift which has been used many times since in the months of lockdown as I have celebrated communion for Wonersh URC on Facebook. Thank God for unexpected blessings in this most challenging year. The disciples thought everything was over as Jesus died on a cross. But Jesus surprised them beyond understanding with resurrection joy.

May God bless us all as we move on in His love,

Rev Helen Everard

Meditation Follow Me by Sally Foster-Fulton from “Dancing in the Desert

Follow me, we hear you calling God
But that is such a journey.
Sometimes we have to go over old ground
Trudging back to the wrong turns we made
And retracing our steps.
That can mean we have to admit to the times
We should have asked for directions
And to the times we decided on a shortcut
That turned out to be a dead end.
Going over old ground is not a popular tourist destination.

Follow me, we hear you calling God
But that is such a journey.
Sometimes we have to venture into new territory,
Choosing paths we can’t be sure of.
We can’t see over the tops of hills or around bends
Until we’ve travelled a long way on them,
And there are usually bumps and blocks in the road too.
Some places are so new that the satnav wouldn’t even work,
So what do you expect us to do when we come to a crossroad?

Following you calls us to journeying God,
So give us the determination we need –
Courage when we stumble,
light in the darkness,
Friends to point the way
And our own inner ear to follow the voice
We hear calling us home.
It is Lent and we hit the highway of self-reflection.
On our journey with you
We will meet a lot of interesting people.
The most surprising might just be the real us
So keep us going, God.