Black Lives Matter

I wonder how you respond to this headline: with frustration, anger, approval, exasperation?  You may even be cross with me for bringing this subject up. But as it has featured in my email communication with members of the parish recently, I wanted to reflect publicly about it.

Recently, a black friend of mine told me the story of how, shortly before lockdown, she was walking through a local shopping centre when she was approached by a man of approximately 20–30 who walked straight towards her. At the last moment she swerved to make way for him only to hear him mutter, ‘Ooh, ooh, ooh!’ and raise his arms in imitation of a monkey as he walked past her.

We may believe that racism is a thing of the past in a civilised society, but, sadly, my friend’s experience in 2020 shows that it is still alive and kicking, whether overtly or perhaps even more likely covertly in our unconscious biases and stereotypes.

We may want to counter by saying that, ‘All Lives Matter’. And clearly they do, for God both created and loves everyone.

‘But just at the moment, it is vital that we acknowledge how Black Lives Matter – in our words, deeds and imagining,’  

 as Bishop Jo, Bishop of Dorking wrote to all Guildford clergy on 18 June. I commend her whole piece to you – you can find it here.

In a tweet on 8 June, Archbishop Justin Welby wrote this:

‘The racism that people in this country experience is horrifying. The Church has failed here, and still does, and it’s clear what Jesus commands us to do: repent and take action.’

I wonder if and how racism has affected you? I do hope that if you are from a BAME background that you have been made welcome at St Andrew’s or in any of the Oxshott community activities. Perhaps we could all take the opportunity to do what the archbishop says. First, to examine ourselves (including in prayer, asking God to help) and, if necessary, repent of our attitudes or actions (or even our inaction). Secondly, we might consider what actions we as a church or as a community might need to take to be welcoming to everyone, because ‘All Lives Matter’ to God and to all of us. This is a huge subject and we will return to it but do please let me know if you have any reflections on this.

Blessings,

 

Pastoral Letter — 1 June

Our new grandson is now a full 3 months old, which means we have been in lockdown for over 9 weeks. Communication — whether through letters, hand-written notes, emails, the internet or phone calls — has been so important in helping us to keep going.

However, the significance of being able to see each other face-to-face was underlined for me yesterday when an elderly member of the St Andrew’s family made it onto an online gathering for the first time. Not only was she extremely pleased but the effect on the rest of us was amazing: we were absolutely thrilled to see her smiling face!

We now know that there is the potential for those who are not shielding to meet with up to 6 others (providing they keep to the government’s guidelines): praise the Lord! However, with ‘normal’ services and gatherings in church still a distant hope, we are concerned to help anyone who wishes to gain access to all the good things that continue to take place as part of St Andrew’s online.

Do you have an internet connection but are anxious about using your computer? Do you find navigating our website a challenge? If this describes you, or someone you know, then please let us know, as we are thinking of offering group tutorials to help people learn to do this. Alternatively, you might like help to investigate using a device (such as a mobile phone). Again, please let us know how we can help.

Of course, some of us are thrilled that we cannot easily be contacted for this time and are enjoying ‘time out’, so no one need feel under any pressure to join in! The important thing is that no one should feel alone. As the apostle Paul writes in several of his letters, we are members of Christ’s body together and when you hurt, the rest of us do too.

But God has so arranged the body… that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.  

(1 Cor 12:24-26)

So please allow us to help you if we can.

Blessings,

Frances’ Pastoral Letter – 14 May

How have the last two weeks been for you?  I wonder if, like me and several friends, you have found yourself at a low ebb recently (some have described it as ‘hitting a wall’)?  I certainly had a couple of days a week or so ago when it was ridiculously hard to motivate myself to do anything.  I am certain this is a normal phase; the result of the realisation that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are both here to stay for some time and will affect almost every part of our lives.

For me, the VE Day Bank Holiday with its beautiful weather and uplifting sense of celebration and thankfulness for peace was timely in helping me overcome this feeling.  I hope that you were able to join in with something which lifted your spirits too.  It also happened that this was the time when a YouTube video of The UK Blessing was released.  I have written about this for the next magazine so will not write much here.  However, it is a wonderful setting of some words from the book of Numbers in the Old Testament:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and give you peace.’

I do suggest that you watch it below and join the 2 million or so people for whom it has been a real inspiration.  It reminds us that the only true peace we experience – whatever our circumstances – comes from God as a gift.

One of the many effects of Covid-19 upon the life of St Andrew’s, Oxshott concerns the long-awaited replacement of our ancillary buildings.  As many of you in the community are aware, these spaces (the kitchen, the hall and so on) currently leave a lot to be desired.  In fact, they were last renewed almost 50 years ago and have served us well.  Some of you will also be aware that the Parochial Church Council (PCC) has been looking at plans to improve these.  To this end, the Building Your Church (BYC for short) project has begun and is being led by Jill Mengham.  Over the next couple of weeks, Jill will send out a report to keep us all up to date with what is happening and to inform our praying.

Blessings,

Watch the UK blessing