Church of England Diocese of Bristol St. Martin Knowle

A message from Rev. Laura Verrall-Kelly ... 20th November

20 Nov 2020, 4:30 p.m.

Dear friends,

Woah we’re halfway there, woooah living on a prayer! I hope you all recognise those lyrics from Bon Jovi which just popped into my head as I’ve sat down to write this. We are halfway through this second lockdown. Halfway through Church returning to online, halfway through zoom meetings (I haven’t done a quiz yet!) and halfway through not being able to see you all face to face. I wonder how this leaves you feeling? For me, I think this lockdown has felt harder, maybe it’s the darker evenings, maybe it feels like we’ve stepped back or maybe living in a global pandemic is just taking its toll. But I guess God can even work through John Bon Jovi because, in what feels like another strange and unknown season, are we living on prayer at the moment?

Despite Church returning to online, I have still felt connected to you and to God. Becky and I along with the ministry team wanted to intentionally put in more space to gather. This has meant our wonderful churchwardens opening our church building on a Monday evening for private prayer and also having our Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon Zoom coffee drop-ins. These have been places to see you once again, hear how you are doing, to laugh and have real fellowship with one another. If you haven’t been able to join but would like to, you are most welcome. It may not be exactly as we’d like, but it certainly helps me having moments and spaces in the week to re-connect and to be reminded of what we have in common, our faith.

I want to share with you a moment I had with God where I felt His voice clearly. I have to say, this doesn’t always happen like this, but I was very moved by the moment and also felt like God say to share with you all.

The other day, I was looking in the mirror before I went to bed. I noticed how dry my skin was, I noticed the dark circles under my eyes and just generally my skin looking a little dull. Don’t worry, this won’t be an in-depth account of my skin regime (!), but as I took time to notice myself, I felt God whisper something to me.

I felt God revealing and reminding me that God is a God who deeply refreshes us, who by His Spirit, washes over us and deeply nourishes us. By noticing the dryness <span style="font-size: 1rem;">on my face, it made me wonder about my soul, myself and how generally tired and exhausted I tend to feel in this lockdown. As I said, I was reminded of how generous God is with us, how God refreshes us – not in a superficial way that would make my skin look better, but deeply and profoundly that would nourish and tend to my inner being, my soul.</span>

On Wednesday evening we had our second Community of Acts Contemplative Prayer Service, live-streamed where we focused on God’s living water.

We considered Psalm 42:1-2 ‘As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?’

And John 4:14 ‘Jesus says “but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”’

I felt God was giving these passages to our community, to St Martin’s but also our whole Parish where so many may be feeling dry, exhausted and a little lost. Maybe like me, you are also longing, thirsting for refreshment, for the spring of living water to rush over you during this time. Join with me in spending time reflecting on these passages, imaging the scene in your minds and how Jesus wants to refresh you.

We cannot be sure of what the future holds at the moment, but we can be sure of who holds the future. Who knows whether we actually are halfway through lockdown or it will be extended, but whatever situation we find ourselves, I do believe Bon Jovi had the right idea that we can get through by living on prayer. Whatever circumstances you find yourself in at the moment, whether good or bad, I pray that you would be able lean on God, pour out your heart to God and know His refreshing and nourishing Spirit washing over you.

With love and prayers Laura