Letter from St Mark's House

St Mark's House

April - May 2020

 

Dear friends 

Public worship has been put on hold (for the first time since 1208!) at a high point of the year: Easter. While services and celebrations may cease, the Easter message of life, love and hope shines even more brightly against the sombre setting of the coronavirus pestilence. The news is full of disease and the fear of death, as the coronavirus sends shock waves through the world, shaking our security. Secular pundits warn that global pandemics are among the greatest threats facing humanity, but biblical prophets see disease as a parable for humanity’s greatest malady - sin - the rejection of God, his law and his love. It has been said that sin is the ultimate pandemic, leaving no human free from its fatal infection, suffering and death. We are mortal. While politicians seek to contain coronavirus, scientists search for vaccine to combat it. But there is no political solution or scientific remedy that can cure the pandemic of human sin.

A natural response to this contagion is fear which comes in many forms: fear for ourselves or our loved ones; present or future. Fear is not wrong - Jesus reproves his disciples for lack of faith not for being fearful. Being afraid is being human; because our Creator knows exactly what we are like, he sympathises with our fears and frailty. God repeatedly encourages his children ‘Don’t be afraid’ and with that command comes the needed assurance. The Bible reminds us that Christ shared in our humanity so that ‘by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death’.
(1) That is why it is ‘Good’ Friday. It doesn’t stop there. After Christ was crucified his devastated and disillusioned disciples were hiding, their hopes had died with Christ. But then on Easter Day, the risen Christ came to his frightened followers and said, ‘Do not be afraid; peace be with you’.(2)  As Jesus’ friend Peter wrote, Jesus Christ has given us ‘a living hope’.(3)

In Wuhan, where the coronavirus emerged, Pastor Huang Lei shared how his church has witnessed God’s grace in the challenges they faced, enabling them to redirect their energies from anxiety and panic to love and preparation. He commented, ‘This epidemic provides an opportunity for us to introspect our faith, reflect on ourselves, strengthen our spiritual life and to depend on God. [It is} a rarely seen disaster in human history, yet everything presents an opportunity to glorify God.’  The pastor reminds believers that ‘Christ has already given us his peace, but his peace is not to remove us from disaster and death, but rather to have peace in the midst of disaster and death, because Christ has already overcome these things.’

In Easter peace and hope

 

 

Nick and Harriet

Bible references: (1) Hebrews 2.14-15  (2) John’s Gospel 20.19  (3) 1 Peter 1.3