Letter from St Mark's House

St Mark's House

August-September 2020


Dear friends 

Rarely? Never! have we had such varied settings for church gatherings, from Swiss lakes to Western Isles – but all were virtual backgrounds in our Zoom meetings. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought our lives closer to science fiction and has challenged us to explore and expand the ways we relate to other people when we can’t be together. However, recordings of our voices and appearance are no substitute for who we are in person. We miss the human touch and presence and at times that has been at the most critical moments.

'The journey of recovery will be slower than our journey into lockdown,' writes the Bishop of Oxford. 'Lockdown has been difficult but has also brought new insights, oppportunities and priorities to the surface. We are invited to look at our mission and reflect on what has been lost through the pandemic which we need to grieve, what has been reduced that we need to let go of, what has been reduced that we need to build up again, what has emerged that we need to respond to. We recognise that Church will need to change. But that change will emerge in a thousand different ways as locally we pay careful attention to the Spirit...and seek to discern prayerfully and plan strategically the shape of the mission of the Church in each of our contexts.' We are so thankful for those in our context who, working together, provide practical help, a listening ear and ongoing support in community, church and school.

Some of us have been reading 5 Things to Pray in a Global Crisis. It so happens that this week the theme is hope. This also is the week that the UAE have just launched their Mars Mission, ‘Hope’, so called because 'it sends a message of optimism to millions' with international teams working in partnership. We can 'face any challenge together' was Captain Sir Tom Moore’s message that tapped into a national longing as is reflected in the overwhelming response to his inspiring achievement. Clearly the theme is timely, but it is also for all time - particularly as we encounter the turbulent waves of the pandemic’s profound psychological and social effects.

'When Earth's last picture is painted,' posed Rudyard Kipling, will it be of despair or hope? There is clearly a longing for 'hope in a hopeless world'. In the catacombs, caves and tunnels where persecuted Christians hid during the Roman persecutions, are apparently sixty-six drawings of anchors. Hope was their anchor during those stormy days. Like the anchor, hope fixes on what is out of sight and lays hold of the steadfast rock of God’s promises (1). The biblical prophet, Jeremiah, wrote (2), 'my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.'

Living in hope

Nick and Harriet

In the Bible: (1) Hebrews 6:19; (2) Lamentations 3:19-22