Minister’s Letter

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Dear Friends

As I write this I am distracted by my memories of our recent holiday in Lochgoilhead in the Scottish Highlands with all the awesome beauty of God’s creation, the peace and being able to take life at a more leisurely pace. Without doubt God was present in its wow factor. I am also slightly distracted by my licensing as Reader in Durham Cathedral on 23rd September, the Cathedral has such beauty and it is easy to strongly feel God’s presence there too. Then began the Evening News and I am transported back to the reality of the world outside my memories of perfection and the presence of God in creation is shattered, America, Caribbean and Mexico to name a few devastated by the same nature in which I find my peace and perfection. Where can we possibly see God amid all this destruction and loss of life?

As a Christian I chose to follow God and try to live life following in the footsteps of Jesus swift to praise Him for the blessing He bestowed on us yet when I see the news, I struggle to justify my faith in my God of love often turning my back or a blind eye to what is going on to save the apologetics.

Why doesn’t he stop the death and destruction? Why are these innocent people having their lives torn apart? For the non-believer, it is an easy question to answer there is no god so we can’t blame him nature is more powerful! What about me, the faithful Christian who believes in an ever-loving God?, after all scripture tells us “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). Where is this love the Father has lavished on His children now? What is left lying in the debris of the lives of those who have survived these life changing disasters, their world changed forever and what seems like and endless road to healing and recovery. ‘Where is God in that?’ I cry.

Let me share a little of where I believe God is and feel free to challenge me. I believe God is just as much present in the midst of the storms and flooding in America and the earthquakes destruction in Mexico as he is in the beauty of the mountains, waterfalls and Glens of Scotland.

God is present in and with those emergency services, Aid agencies and volunteers working all hours to help those in need, providing them with energy and immeasurable love as they brave the enormity of the situation before them.

God is present with the families caught up in the devastation giving hope and light in the darkest of hours sharing in the despair and heartache.

God is there with those giving donations of money, food, clothing, shelter and support.

God is with us who offer prayer because sometimes that is the most we are able to give with genuine love.

God has not abandoned anyone in the midst of crisis for those who suffer maybe stranger to us, but God know each by name. Next time I feel like that I will ask myself not where is God, what is God doing but where am I and what am I doing to help others who really need some light in a dark world.

Keep praying like mad for all who suffer and remember what St Paul wrote in his letter the Christians in Rome;

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers,

nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. (Romans 8:38-39)

Stephen Martin

Reader, United Benefice of St Mary Magdalene, Belmont and St Laurence, Pittington