Newcastle Coronavirus – A different sort of message

25 March

Dear friends in Christ,

I want to reach out to all of you in this brief moment when there is a pause in the news about Covid-19.

Many in our community and the clergy of the Diocese have been running really hard over the last 8 days.

There has been so much change and so many demands.

I give thanks to God for the resilience, empathy and commitment of clergy across the Diocese. The stories of what you have done are moving and powerful.

It is part of the clergy vocation to give selflessly in periods of crisis either for an individual or, in this case, for the community at large. The ordinary guidance about days off slips aways.

In the last week clergy have contacted thousands of people as well as set up alternative patterns of ministry, pastoral care, worship and teaching. There has been lots of private and public prayer.

Over the next few days I encourage clergy and all of us to do a few things.

  1. Please take some time to stop.You might not get a full day (perhaps you might). Sit in your garden. Look at the trees. Listen to the birds. Stop! Have a cup of tea with your loved ones. Stop! Breathe! Be Still!
  2. When you get a chance, establish your work from home timetable. Structure your day with dedicated time to make contact with the people you minister to, dedicated time to prepare communications and dedicated time for those you share your home with (if share your home). Build in time to contact your loved ones and close friends. Build in time to stop.
  3. Work out how you might change your clothes, jewellry or shoes to demarcate your day.
  4. Think about some routines that will sustain you. I’m appreciating the Cathedral Youtube Daily Prayers. I’m appreciating the lectionary and its structured frame of bible readings. I’m not really appreciating the need for a revised list of chores but the house is getting messier with 24/7 living! I normally shop everyday, I’m working out which days to shop!
  5. Find the ‘heavy’ book you’re going to read and find the ‘light’ book you’re going to read! My selections are The Bible in Australia (Meredith Lake) and The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
  6. Get some exercise – go for an appropriately physically distanced walk!
  7. Did I say stop?

I want to recommend a book to you. Earlier this year I found the book Try Softer by Aundi Kolber to be insightful and refreshing. She explores how our God-given bodies and minds work together to process our stories and work through obstacles. She draws together the latest psychology, practical clinical exercises, with her own personal story. There were some sections that moved me deeply and helped me greatly.

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about how God extends to us his grace even when we cannot resort to our familiar ways of encountering him. God has promised to bless us – to nurture our soul. I rejoice in his promises in the midst of this uncertainty.

There are many changes and demands to come. But for a while over the coming days – stop – be still – know God’s presence and peace.

In Christ,

+Peter