Ministers Letter – June 2006

Rev. Ray CoatesDear Friends

Shortly after Easter we spent a few days in London and as so often happens when we go away, some of the experiences left me with much to ponder on. On our first full day we went to Kew Gardens. It was glorious weather and as we walked round we realised that we were enjoying the work and the fruits of gardeners from the last 200 years. And in the way we care for creation we have a responsibility to make sure the legacy we leave to our children and all who follow in succeeding generations is a good one. In much of what we do we will not see the fruits of our labours yet must still work for the good of those who will follow.

Saturday saw us at Southwark Cathedral, and remembering the bustle of St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey the last time I had visited those places the atmosphere was so different. When I had visited St Paul’s I had gone to find peace to reflect but was disappointed. In Southwark I found it and somehow the presence of God seemed much more tangible.

It was Sunday we had gone for though, as that was the day of the London Marathon. At one time our son had been going to do it, and although he had abandoned the idea because he could not raise the sponsor money the charity that had given him a place demanded, he was going to be there to support a friend and meet up with others. Shortly after 11am, therefore, we joined him and our daughter and Paul’s friends near Mile 9. The atmosphere was certainly special and I was filled with admiration for those who had trained hard and now were putting their bodies through it for the good of others. There was no doubt that they were lifted by the cheers and encouragement of the crowds. After Paul’s friend had passed us we took the Underground to Mile 14 and then later to Mile 21. By now they were flagging but when they heard us calling their name they picked their legs up and burst into a trot. Then we made our way to the finish near Buckingham Palace and waited for Sam. And we waited and waited…… And then the news came that they had ground to a halt…..Paul and other friends raced off to give their encouragement and support and Sam did make it!

Our paths in life can often be hard at times and this Marathon reminded me of that. It also reminded me of two most important encouragements on the way. The first is the help and encouragement that we get from friends and those who travel with us or those we encounter on the way. Without the help of others at times we would be lost and it is something we should be grateful for. There is another help as well though and for me it comes from two sources. I remember first the parting promise of Jesus to his friends – “I will be with – always.” The other is something from the New Testament book Hebrews. There the writer reminds those living through difficult times that they are surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses who are praying for them and encouraging them on, the heavenly host. The knowledge of such help, unseen help, is certainly at times a great boost to me, as is the help of friends and family. And I would want to say to you that if there are times when things are not easy for you, remember the earthly friends, the promise of Jesus and the great crowd of witnesses that surround us – you have a lot of people rooting for you. May it help you on your way.

With much love,

Your Minister and friend