As I write I am continuing to recover from emergency surgery to put right a perforated and blocked bowel! I had no idea I was suffering from either, so all the excitement took place while we were on holiday in Cornwall – thankfully we were staying with really good friends which meant that Fiona had plenty of support and I had somewhere to go when I came out of hospital! Anyway, by the time you read this so long as I don’t overdo it, I should be nearing a return to work (the plan is somewhere around the first week in April), so thank you for all your support and prayers – all much appreciated!
Of course all of this has given me quite a bit of time to reflect – I have certainly been reminded of my mortality, and also been given cause to give thanks for living in a country where there is free medical care at the point of need – what a blessing the NHS is! But ultimately I had time to give thanks to God for his care and Psalm 91 gave me words to express my thanks:
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
I found particularly helpful the image of being covered with his feathers and finding refuge under his wings – it felt like God was saying to me that I was 100% safe with Him, and this was especially helpful in the days after the operation when in the dark of the night one’s mind can make one think the worst! So I hope I will hold on to this great truth no matter what the future holds.
Nevertheless my absence has meant that various things have had to be put on hold both for us personally and for the parish, not least of which was the publication and implementation of our church Mission Action Plan. It is now planned that this will be launched at our annual parochial church meeting on Wednesday 20th April, so I would really appreciate it if as many folk as possible make this meeting a priority – put it in your diaries if you haven’t already done so!
Speaking of diary dates I hope that many of you will be attending the licensing of Rev’d Andy Patrick as our new Team Vicar on Tuesday 12th April at 7.30pm at St Luke’s. Andy’s appointment comes after much prayer, and I ask you to join me in praying that his ministry among us will be really fruitful. I would also ask you to pray that he and his wife Clare feel settled in the parish really quickly.
While some things have had to be put on hold, others have continued apace, and I am especially grateful to Noel Duke and the rest of the Alpha team for picking up the baton and making sure Alpha has happened – and I would ask you to pray for the Holy Spirit Day on Saturday 16th April at Hampsthwaite church community room.
Then as I close I want to say thanks to the Smelly Yellow Welly Club team – I gather at one point it looked like SYWC would have to be cancelled because of a shortage of team members, so thanks to all who stepped up and to all the core team who made things happen – hopefully by the time you read this we will be reporting just how well things have gone.