Reverend David Parry reflects this week on the times when we feel anxious.
[See the bottom of this page for what’s on throughout the week]
Acts 18: 9-11 New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised © Nat. Council Churches of Christ
Reverend David Parry writes:
Most of are unwilling to admit when we feel anxious, even concealing the extent of our vulnerability from those who would be sympathetic. Worry is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, yet we do so often feel shame and that we are a failure. Christians can be particularly prone to concealing anxiety because we (wrongly) suppose that faith should fix all that – and if it hasn’t, we must be to blame.
What a relief then to find Paul – mighty man of God, relentless evangelist, Saint – in need of a pep talk from God during an anxious, sleepless night. “Do not be afraid” says the Lord. It is the same message given to countless prophets, to Mary with news she would give birth to Jesus, to the women at the empty tomb, to the disciples when Jesus appeared in the locked room…and to millions of anxious believers ever since.
It is clear that God was doing far more than telling Paul not to worry. He was challenging the basis of that gnawing anxiety, showing him a radically different perspective. One of the most pernicious and dangerous lies we start to believe when struggling with poor mental health, for whatever reason, is that we are alone. We tell ourselves that nobody cares about us or is on our side. Not only does God remind Paul, “I am with you” but also that he has many allies as yet unknown to him, “for there are many in this city who are my people.”
The effect of this truth is not a short-lived boost in confidence followed by grim reality. Instead Paul experienced 18 months of fruitful peace in which to see souls won. We could say that if there had been no midnight “Do not be afraid” Paul would not have planted a church in that tumultuous Roman city and we would have no 1 & 2 Corinthians in our Bible.
Are you living with anxiety? Sorry that is a stupid question because we all are! Every nation, every family overshadowed by a year of peril. Many school children and their teachers, students and lecturers facing a new term with extra challenges. I find what helps is to rehearse the truth which hasn’t changed, the love and Salvation made possible only in Jesus Christ and the strength we draw from each other as we follow him together. My Bible, our reflections, our prayers and conversations online and in our buildings … all add up to the gentle message I need to hear when it all seems too much:
“Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many … who are my people.”
Ffyddlon Un, digynfnewid
oesol Un, ti yw craig fy hedd.
Arnat ti rwy’n dibynnu,
galwaf arnat ti drachefn a thrachefn.
Ti yw fy nghraigpan ddaw trafferthion,
fe’m deli’n dynn pan lithraf fi;
gydol y storm
dy gariad yw’r angor,
mae’n gobaith ynot ti yn llwyr.
Faithful One, so unchanging,
ageless One, You’re my rock of peace.
Lord of all I depend on you,
I call out to you again and again.
You are my rock in times of trouble.
You lift me up when I fall down.
All through the storm
your love is the anchor,
my hope is in you alone.
Tuesday 1st September (10.30am)
You are warmly invited to Zoom Coffee tomorrow morning at 10.30am,
for friendly and engaging conversation about this week’s theme, and of course a great way to belong.
[or use Meeting ID: 881 3417 1456; Passcode: 430751]
Wednesday 2nd September (11am)
Midweek Communion: first of our new weekly Services at the beautiful and ancient Church of St. Benedict’s in Gyffin
Saturday 5th September (8am)
Online Weekend Service: our video is published Saturday morning
Sunday 6th September (9.30am)
Sunday Communion Service: St. Peter’s in Llanbedr-y-Cennin
Sunday 6th September (11am)
Please note, if you would like to come to one of the Church Services, you are required to wear a face mask. Distance measures will also be in place. Please don’t come if you, or a member of your household, has been unwell in the last 14 days with Covid-like symptoms. Thank you!