Dear Friends

A cautious lifting of the lockdown is welcome as we slowly resume life in a more normal way. And, of course, we have already been able to resume worship in church, albeit under fairly strict guidelines (details of which can be seen on the website, as well as on the church noticeboard).

One of the most distressing phenomena reported during the lockdown period has been the apparent increase in domestic violence, as couples were forced to spend too much time together, and ‘fault lines’ in their relationships became apparent. Recently, too, even The Times has been full of news about the libel trial currently under way at the Old Bailey, in which Johnny Depp is suing The Sun about allegations made by his former wife, Amber Heard, for having categorized him as a ‘wife beater’. What has emerged appears to be a pattern of unseemly mutual violence between the couple, with vodka and champagne bottles being thrown, and blood spilt ~ although Depp is in his 50s, and Heard in her 30s, one cannot escape the conclusion that both at times have behaved like ‘naughty children’.

This leads us to the deeper question of why people fall out in this way. Even the most ancient Scriptural texts attest to the fact that this is a problem which has always been with us. We all know about Cain and Abel, but the Scriptures are full of stories of unscrupulous and blameworthy behaviour, as well as of the constant call from the Lord to ‘do better’. For example, there is the saga of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, who “landgrabs’ the vineyard of their neighbour, Naboth, because it is adjacent to the palace. The upshot is that Naboth is unfairly convicted on a trumped-up charge and is stoned to death. This unseemly episode forms part of the ‘Elijah cycle’ of narratives and, of course, the prophet roundly condemns Jezebel, who then threatens to retaliate. Elijah decides that, in this instance, discretion is the better pan of valour and decides to flee to the wilderness, where he hides in a cave. There God appears to him, not through an earthquake, mighty wind or fire, but through the ‘still small voice’ which speaks a word of rebuke, but also of guidance.
Perhaps this is at least one answer to the endemic problems of violence and aggression which continue to be encountered in our own times? We need to make time to still ourselves, like Elijah, and listen for the ‘still small voice’ of the Lord, who sometimes challenges us but also lovingly puts us back on the right track.

However you may be spending this summer, now that it is here, I hope and pray it is a happy time for you and your families and, as is said so often at the moment, ‘keep well and stay sate’.

Stephen