Ministers’ Page

From Rev. Anna Bishop

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

As I write, the UK government has lifted all COVID-related restrictions in England, and
so I know that many of you will be bitterly disappointed that our life at SMc is not
immediately going back to ‘normal’. I completely understand that disappointment; we
have all had enough of this rotten virus, and of the limitations its management has
imposed on us.

But frustratingly, it hasn’t gone away just because we have had enough. The
government has now asked us to take ‘personal responsibility’ and make ‘informed
decisions’. This means that we now have to interpret the data ourselves and make
decisions accordingly, rather than relying on the government’s interpretation of the
data and regulations. Inevitably, every organisation and every individual will interpret
the data differently, have different ideas about what is ‘responsible’, and make different
decisions, so we now need to learn to live with these variations.

This has placed a heavier responsibility than ever on the Restart Group here at SMc,
and I am once again so grateful for their willingness to carry that responsibility and to
grapple with questions that have no ‘right’ answers. All they can do is their best, and I
hope you will all join me in supporting them and being thankful for the compassion and
commitment they are offering in service to us all.

Although we have sought to follow all the government COVID regulations in spirit as
well as in fact, their ending has reminded us that it is not the law that is our guiding
principle, but love.

Throughout the pandemic, the Restart Group has sought to maintain the life of SMc in
a way that expresses the self-sacrificial love of Christ: “No one has greater love than
this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15: 13) Of course, “laying down
one’s life” does not only mean dying for somebody. It means laying down our own
preferences and priorities, setting aside our own wishes and opinions for the sake of
the wellbeing of our friends and our community.

It is this ‘greatest love’ that we seek to express at SMc, at all times, and especially
throughout this ongoing pandemic. It is difficult. It is especially difficult during the
pandemic, when it adds to our sense of isolation. But I hope that we are learning new
ways to connect and support and encourage one another safely.

And in all things, we are “strengthened in our inner being with power through his
Spirit…” (Ephesians 3: 16b) – the Spirit of Christ who went alone to the cross to show
us the meaning of true self-sacrificial love, and who us always with us when we love
and when we suffer.

“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far
more than all we can ask or imagine, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ
Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3: 20-21)

With love,

Anna.