A few people have said that they haven't been receiving my emails. Below is a copy of the email that was sent on Tuesday 17th March 2020...
I read Psalm 121 this morning and I'm sure I'll be reading it again in the coming days. Psalm 121 is a song of ascents - a song that pilgrims sang as they travelled towards the place of God's presence (Jerusalem). Psalm 121 has four pairs of verses. The first pair is verses 1-2. The pilgrim is looking at the daunting mountains that surround Jerusalem. The mountains are a place of difficulty and danger. But the pilgrim responds to that by saying to himself: I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. The truth that his help ultimately comes from the LORD reassures him. And as we travel towards the place of God's presence (the New Jerusalem), and as we look at the coronavirus and its consequences, it too looks daunting. There's difficulty ahead. There's danger. But we too can say to ourselves: My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. The God of all creation - the infinite, eternal God - is our helper. And this ultimate truth reassures us today and tomorrow, and in the coming weeks, because he is the One who watches over us.
John shared a song at the prayer meeting on Sunday afternoon called Jesus, Strong and Kind. It's a simple song - my girls have been singing it - but it's rich with reassuring truth. You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5Y8s-Sz_ac
In light of the government's most recent advice our Sunday services at Mangotsfield Primary School will be suspended until further notice. We're also suspending Prayer Meetings and Home Groups (including youth studies and youth socials). The Men's Curry Evening next Thursday has also had to be cancelled.
In the second, third and fourth pair of verses in Psalm 121 it's no longer the pilgrim speaking to himself. It's other pilgrims speaking to him. Other pilgrims reassure him that he can look to the Maker of heaven and earth for help. And five times they say that the LORD 'watches over' his people (v3, 4, 5, 7, 8). The climax comes in the last verse: ...the LORD will watch over your coming and going, both now and for evermore. That's an amazing truth! But just as this pilgrim needed other pilgrims to reassure him, we also need other pilgrims to reassure us. Therefore, over the coming weeks we want to do all we can to speak the truth in love to one another. One of the ways we're going to try to do that is by live streaming a simple service on Sunday mornings. We now have a Village Church YouTube channel - which you can find here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3xBtJ6CvkojhFcmNuEukbg?view_as=subscriber. If you 'subscribe' to the channel it will make it easier for you to find on Sunday morning. At 10:30am we'll be 'live' for readings, prayers, music (for kids too), notices and a sermon. This Sunday Si Short will be preaching on Mark 11:1-25.
It may be that you have family or friends in Bristol who are willing and able, if necessary, to help you - and that's great! However, we also want everyone at the Village Church to know that there are people here who are willing and able to help them too. The Home Group leaders have agreed that Home Groups should try to provide the first line of practical and pastoral care. If a member of a Home Group is sick or self-isolating the leaders will do what they can to coordinate the members of their group to provide what's needed e.g. collect some shopping, pick up a prescription or make a regular phone call. Therefore, if you need any help please do get in touch with your Home Group leader. If you need help with YouTube, please also get in touch with your Home Group leader. If it's not possible for a Home Group to provide the first line of practical or pastoral care they'll call on their partner Home Group (we've partnered the Byrne/Cox group with the Latham/Short group and the Herring/Staveley group with the Taylor/Jones group). And even if you haven't been going to a Home Group on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening you still belong to one. Everyone at the Village Church is in a Home Group. And if you're not sure which group you belong to please do email me and I'll let you know.
Warmly in Christ