June 2020 

This months newsletter comes from our Rector, Rev Canon Nigel Mason

I write at a time when uncertainty about the Coronavirus continues and we are all waiting to see how this situation will develop.

I am interested to see how people have been spending their days during this period of restriction, especially with additional time on their hands.  It would seem during this crisis we have been unable to distract ourselves with activity as we would normally and the deeper questions of life have occupied many of us.  I was reading an article from The Week and it gave the following statistic:

“Google searches for the word ‘prayer’ have skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Last month, they doubled with 80,000 new registered cases of the virus globally, according to the University of Copenhagen.”

And in the last few days the Guardian newspaper have reported how 1 in 4 of us have tuned into watch religious programmes, many of which are from a younger generation.

There is a verse from the Bible known, as God’s telephone number.  If you want to contact God phone Jeremiah 333 (ch33 v3) and he will respond. 

“‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’”

This turning to God at difficult times is a pattern repeated from the Old Testament across the centuries and even down to our day; when we feel threatened, and our lives are at risk and things are beyond our control we turn to God.

I recall reading of such a time in the early years of the 2WW when France and Belgium had fallen and 350,000 of the BEF were trapped between the Germans and the sea.

King George VI seeing the desperate situation, in a stirring broadcast to the nation, called for Sunday 26th May, 1940 to be observed as a National Day of Prayer.  Together with members of the cabinet he attended Westminster Abbey while millions of his subjects in all parts of the commonwealth and Empire flocked to the churches to join in prayer.  Photographs show long queues of people who could not get into Westminster Abbey and the Daily Sketch said: “Nothing like this has happened before.”

Three wonderful things happened:

Hitler overruled his generals and halted the advance of his armoured columns.

A storm of unprecedented fury broke over Flanders on Tuesday 28th May, grounding the Luftwaffe

Following the storm, a calm – such as had rarely been experienced settled over the English Channel.

Winston Churchill reported to the House of Commons on 4th June that rather than 20,000 or 30,000 (an estimate by the War Office), “335,000 men had been carried out of the jaws of death and shame to their native land.”  He went on to refer to it as “a miracle of deliverance.”

C.B. Mortlock in an article in the Daily Telegraph at the time said, “Officers of high rank do not hesitate to put down the deliverance of the British Expeditionary Force to the fact of the nation being at prayer on Sunday, 26th may before the great storm in Flanders and the calm that came over all the channel.”

From the ground, the average person doing their duty, could not have discerned the ‘greater’ picture of what was happening.  Only later, as all the pieces were put together, was it possible to see the Hand of God in our nation’s affairs.  And as we have just celebrated VE day that Hand continued to be present amid human affairs. 

At such a time as this, we hope and pray that God will respond when we seek his face with regard to the present threat to our safety.  Even though our churches are closed, people continue to use technology and the extra time some of us have, to seek God in prayer.