Reflection for 23 January

26th January 2022

One of the highlights of this past week for me was visiting Tim Selwood at home. You will know that Tim had been in hospital for 6 weeks, culminating in him having major heart in late December in Southampton.

Tim looked so well, his old spritely self and in what he shared with me, it seemed as if his mind (if not his body) is back to how it was, as he continues to pioneer new ventures for the Minsted Trust. What struck me, however, was something he said about prayer and I’m going to ask him to share this with us rather than me trying to do what only Tim can do best. So that may happen in a service or in one of our news sheets.

Looking at Tim and listening to him, reminded me that Tim has been ‘kept’ throughout this whole process by the love and presence and God, and by those very close to him. 

It prompted me to reflect on a couple of verses we find in the single chapter letter of Jude, one of the more obscure little letters we get right at the end of the New Testament. 

In verse 1 we read these words, ‘To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father, and kept for (or by/in) Jesus Christ.’ and then at the end of the chapter, in verse 21 we get these words of instruction, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.’ 

It is very encouraging to be reminded that we are called, loved and kept in Jesus Christ. These are unshakeable, unchanging truths which are the foundation of who we are and how we exist.  You and I are ‘kept people’.

But we are also instructed to ‘keep’ – there’s a sense that this is something active that we intentionally do. In these uncertain times, it is so easy to drift especially given some of the pressures that we might feel or some of the events that invade our lives. Jude calls us to build ourselves up in the holy faith and to pray in the Holy Spirit.  It is a call for us to remain intentionally faithful and prayerful no matter what the circumstances are that we find ourselves in.

I am conscious that many in the church family and wider community have Covid or are unwell.  I want to remind us all that you are kept in God’s love, close to the Father’s heart, and pray that you, like Tim, will know the power of prayer surrounding you as you faithfully keep yourself close to God.

Next Sunday we have the first of our Benefice Services in 2022 when we join together as two parishes to worship God, listen to his word and be strengthened and encouraged in sharing Holy Communion and remembering the work of Jesus.  The service is at St Swithun’s and will be at 10.00am. 

The announcement by the government this week means that we can worship without the legal requirement to wear face coverings and (subject to being confirmed by the Covid Safe Committee) we hope that we can share in simple refreshments.  It will be an opportunity to see an almost complete car park – I’m sorry it won’t be available use on this Sunday, but once the finishing touches have been applied, we will use and enjoy it.   I hope you feel you will make meeting together at St Swithun’s a priority and an expression of our shared life of faith together.

In the meantime, stay safe and God’s blessing be upon you.  Revd Paul