Dear Friends of The Valley
I am writing fresh from having watched my first ever live inauguration of the President of the United States of America. A President who went to Mass at the beginning of his day, who took time to pray and invited others to do likewise – what good news to hear of a leader taking his faith seriously and unashamedly.
It was clear that after a chaotic and divisive four years, President Biden was and will be trying to bring down the temperature, but real unity will be tough to come by as evidenced in some of the newsfeed which followed when views were taken from elsewhere in the States. I don’t intend to ‘go on’ about Jo Biden’s speech – far more eloquent lines have been written but whatever our politics it appeared that a more hopeful era beckons for the US and the world.
I have to confess that there was a moment during the proceedings when I found ‘something was in my eye’ when Amanda Gorman, the poet laureate stepped up to recite her poem The Hill We Climb. What role models we saw as both she and Kamala Harris came forward. And what depths were in her poem – I found these lines especially thought provoking ‘If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change, our children’s birthright’.
Hope indeed in a time of COVID 19
Hearing Amanda’s relatively young voice it struck me how in the Bible we see how God calls young people to serve him, often by challenging injustices and living out the changes. Think of Samuel whom we read about last Sunday, of Jeremiah and of course Mary.
Listening to people it seems that there’s a grieving together, a kind of communal grieving for this strange new world we are experiencing. A grieving expressed in pain and tears and yet there is a sense in which tentative voices are reflecting upon what we have learned and what we would like to take forward as restrictions lift. It feels important to articulate the pain and to lament. And I wonder if, in so doing it may just lead to new ideas of newness and change. I wonder what sorts of change comes to your mind as you reflect upon what we may like to take forward?
Change may stem from what we witness as people all over the world are being kind, helpful, courageous, gentle – not to mention creative! These are all signs of resurrection hope – but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Hope is tough and emerges from suffering. If you’d like to follow up on some of these thoughts about hope in a time of loss, grief and anxiety you may like to read Walter Bruggemann’s small book ‘Virus as a Summons to Faith’
Nearer home a reminder about Wednesday evenings when we are getting together on Zoom to reflect and discuss the short New Testament letter of Paul to the Philippians using a booklet written by Bishop Steven. Just four chapters long Paul’s letter invites us to reflect upon our situation here in the 21st century as he calls to the Philippians to come out of their lockdown. You would be very welcome to join in. Simply click the link Click to Join Zoom Prayer Meeting
Looking ahead this week, Belinda is wrestling the keyboard to say a few words… hello everyone – just to let you know that all is well at The Vicarage and I am managing to secure good cheese supplies despite lock down… I pop into the village and manage to secure a nibble or two – just in case we get a trace and track message! Do hope you are all taking great care and staying safe – don’t forget to pick up the phone and ring someone for a chat – I rang Bertie town mouse the other day and he is having quite a few adventures but also had some good ideas! Thanks, Belinda for that reminder and if ever you do need anything – do give a call and we’d be happy to offer any support we can.
A sonnet written by Malcolm Guite upon the theme of this week’s Gospel taken from John 2:1-11 when Jesus turns water into wine.
Epiphany at Cana
Here’s an epiphany to have and hold,
A truth that you can taste upon the tongue,
No distant shrines and canopies of gold
Or ladders to be clambered rung by rung,
But here and now, amidst your daily living,
Where you can taste and touch and feel and see,
The spring of love, the fount of all forgiving,
Flows when you need it, rich, abundant, free.
Better than waters of some outer weeping,
That leave you still with all your hidden sin,
Here is a vintage richer for the keeping
That works its transformation from within.
‘What price?’ you ask me, as we raise the glass,
‘It cost our Saviour everything he has.’
With prayerful best wishes for the week ahead