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During this period, where we are unable to meet together in church, Fr Ray Hemingray has shared his thought for today, Sunday 26th April 2020.

Last week the theme of my reflection was faith. This week, I want to add hope into the mix.

The poet Robert Burns, in his poem ‘To a mouse …’, seems to have got it right when he said:

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men Gang aft agley

I expect most of us will have had plans and hopes for this year that look like being dashed, because of the coronavirus pandemic. For example:

· Some will have booked holidays that will have to be or have already been cancelled

· Some may have been planning to visit friends or relatives, who, like everyone else, apart from key workers, find themselves in lockdown

· I really feel for the 20 or so couples who were planning to be married in our benefice churches this year, some of whom have already put back their wedding dates, or fear they may have to

Many people around the country, apart from suffering from the problems of lockdown, are still recovering from flooding earlier in the year. They can be forgiven for thinking: ‘When is life going to get back to normal?’

But it will. We have to live in hope that it will. The alternative is despair. And that doesn’t do anybody any good. In these difficult times, we all need to be helping and encouraging each other to live in hope. If we know anyone who feels their glass of hope is half-empty, we need to try and fill it up for them, or at least try to persuade them that it is half-full!

There are so many things to be thankful for, if we think positively, rather than negatively. For example:

· We have recently enjoyed some beautiful weather, which has enabled those with a garden to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, and watch nature spring back into life.

· It has been heartening to hear of the younger people in the villages who have been helping the elderly and the lonely.

· Thanks to the wonders of technology, we have been able to use the telephone and the internet to keep in touch with relatives and friends – perhaps even more than we have been used to doing in the past!

· People have been very generous in giving of their time, resources, talents and energy to raise money to help others, and what an example to us all have been the efforts of 99 year-old Capt. Tom Moore.

St. Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, reminds us that through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered for us, we can ‘ … boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and

endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.’

Her Majesty the Queen talked about hope in her Easter message: “This year, Easter will be different for many of us but by keeping apart we keep others safe. But Easter isn’t cancelled; indeed, we need Easter as much as ever. The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose, and we can all take heart from this. We know that coronavirus will not overcome us. As dark as death can be – particularly for those suffering with grief – light and life are greater. May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future.”

So we need to be positive. If we know of anyone whose spiritual glass of hope is half-empty, we need to pick up the phone, or log on to Facetime, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, or whatever, and help to top up their glasses.

Fr Ray