Lenten Reflection – 30th March

Dear St Catherine’s Diaspora,

a scripture for our encouragement as we go together into week 3 of this strange life

“I lift up my eyes to the hills
from where is my help to come ?
My help comes from the Lord
the maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 121.1-2

We take encouragement and comfort not only, and perhaps not even primarily, for ourselves
but to strengthen our faith
for as we pray for the countless who need our prayers in these days
much is asked of our faith
and for some of us through lack of exercise it has become slack
so we allow scripture to strengthen our faith for the blessing of those who need it most

Our gallery of prayer is now online here…

I would also like to rerun last week’s musings and indeed the launch of ChurchCoronaCare

#reflectionsfor – 26th March

I have, since we were all last able to meet for prayer and worship in church (Sun 8th March), now sat in our beautiful church four times – to pray for us all and to pray for those who need our prayers, but also to sit in the stillness and listen.

I asked our beloved church whether ‘she’ was feeling neglected / forgotten / unloved / lonely –
I listened and sighed and listened some more
I took in the colours of the windows dancing like gemstones on surfaces that welcomed the chance at being noticed
I took in the items so filled with meaning

  • the sand bowl that holds the pain of our bereavements in lit candles
  • the altar which nurtures us with its gifts ready for the challenges of every week allowing us to find strength and courage
  • the font at once the beginning of an amazing journey but also that which binds us to one another in ‘belonging’ and to those beyond the church in ‘service’ as we try to live out our vocation our calling
  • the space behind the altar which is our holding space but also the space which during Lent has become the visual place of our global intercessions around our world map

I listened and sighed and listened some more
I took in the places that are so ordinary we don’t ‘see’ them at all

  • the shelf with our books so functional and yet here our welcome team and our teens live out faithfully their vocation
  • the pews inflexible and ugly and yet we sit and kneel and encounter new neighbours and old friends alike and we even get to be warm, smug that the clergy have no such comfort
  • the organ loft rich history of venture and generosity and home to a creative gift and vocation around which others bring theirs to share too enabling those below to offer what they have brought
  • our banner incomplete in its lettering and beginning to look tatty and yet proclaiming still and bravely something of our history our heritage our past and therefore our future
  • the walls in both strength and warmth not a contradiction here
  • the very foundations which speak of generosity and legacy and welcome and acceptance but also of pain and fear

I listened and sighed and listened some more
I took in the places we would rather not be part of our beautiful church

  • the enormous crack right down to the foundations stretching our friendship with our hosts as we share such a challenge
  • the frayed carpets which speak of finances stretched and may hint to the newcomer from more affluent parts that we don’t care – Not True – we do care but we give money away as part of our discipleship in gratitude to God
  • cupboards everywhere that need a good sort and a decent clean speaking of congregations that are busy stretched at capacity and also elderly

I asked our beloved church whether ‘she’ was feeling neglected / forgotten / unloved / lonely –
I took in the colours of the windows dancing like gemstones on surfaces that welcomed the chance at being noticed
I listened and sighed and listened some more

“No” came the answer
“now is the time for you to pray in your homes
to hold your neighbours in your minds
and the sick and the dying in your hearts
I will be here for you when you return
and you will love me all the more – and I hope each other
and share with one another some of the things you have learnt ‘outside’ and joy will abound at such stories and grace will abound at the newly discovered ability to listen with the ears and the heart and the rediscovered truth that ‘my’ story is not more important or more precious than ‘yours’……..
stay safe and stay blessed Shalom”

I smiled and listened and smiled some more
and then I gave our beautiful church her Loud voice and put on the Bells……

also launching: #ChurchCoronaCare

this may be with us for a month or for a year,
it will be a platform through which every member of the St Catherine’s family can be engaged in helping and being there for others,
– we can’t Go to Church but we can Be Church

  • We need funds please to, quite literally, help feed those who normally rely on Tafel (German foodbank) which are receiving fewer donations and at least a third of them (nationally) have now closed already.
    There are others who have taken significant cut in earnings
    Monies sent will be converted into supermarket vouchers for shopping

Funds can be sent to the church bank account Friends of the English Church e.V. Volksbank Stuttgart IBAN DE39 6009 0100 0587 2530 02
Please clearly mark your donation as ChurchCoronaCare thank you !!

  • The greatest threat to the ongoing welfare of the Chaplaincy and still having a church to return to in the future is paying our fixed costs (the Chaplain and Anglican Centre)
    Some of you support this need through regular and generous Planned Giving others have not yet made this kind of regular financial commitment, but usually give through the weekly collection plate. With no church service and no children holding out a collection basket, this might be an excellent opportunity to rethink how you give.

Please contact our finance team (aka Jackie) on finances@stcatherines-stuttgart.de for more details on setting up a monthly/quarterly transfer or by all means just send funds to the church bank account Friends of the English Church, Volksbank Stuttgart IBAN DE39 6009 0100 0587 2530 02 thank you !!

  • Whilst so far no one needs shopping doing or other such errands – that could change, watch this space.
  • Doing my weekly ‘sweep’ of church members it is already becoming clear to me (and this is only week 2) that lots of us are struggling with the isolation

We have all been told to remember the elderly
There are also single people of any age, and many of them a long way from ‘home’ and ‘loved ones’, perhaps for the first time
There are those who do not have access to or the confidence to communicate electronically
There are the medically ‘vulnerable’ who are effectively housebound and in isolation for 12 weeks – how will they shop / go to the bank…
And then there are children and teens missing friends and the social glue that usually makes up their every day
And parents juggling home office and home school
Single parents
The list is endless

There are lots of ways to get involved:

  • I need anyone creative to produce pictures and I will get them to some of the above. Pictures can be sent by mail to chaplain@stcatherines-stuttgart.de or by post to the Anglican Centre, Olgastr. 56, 70186 Stuttgart
  • Children's palmsI need children and teens to make lots of palm leaves (Palm Sunday is 5th April) and write the name of a school friend or even someone in your class you don’t much like but who may be struggling, and friends you know from football or Brownies or ballet or… make them and keep them safe for now
  • Leaves adults – there’s a verse which some of you know is a great favourite of mine
    Rev 22.2 “…the tree of life … and the leaves are for the healing of the nations.”
    you too like the children and teens could be creative and make – this time please leaves of any shape – and write on them the nations that have Corona Virus Cases (latest count is 177 countries)…… make them and keep them safe for now
  • I need photographers
    • to take pictures of anything that might bring Joy – Spring has Sprung – and share them. The St. Catherine’s Ladies Evening Group, Stuttgart (LEGS) have a WhatsApp group and are sharing pics of flowers and blossom for those who don’t have a garden which gives us all a lift.
    • we are gathering pics of the candles lit each evening from this week for website to remind us all – we may be in isolation but we are not alone pics can go on our church website and FB page – please send them to the webmaster (Frances) webmaster@stcatherines-stuttgart.de
  • for Easter Sunday I would like at the very least to set up an electronic ’Mexican wave’ of Alleluia Christ is Risen moving through as many of our homes as we can via whichever platform lends itself best to this – help is needed please in getting this setup (alongside Kara (chaplain) and Frances (webmaster))
  • finally not everyone reads these emails – please, please, please encourage each other along friendship lines, new or established to look at these emails on the website as a way of keeping connected or to sign up for them in the first place
    and pick up a phone (with or without video) maybe once each day to someone (I have just spoken to someone who is making two phone calls each morning and two each afternoon with the comment “It brings someone into your home”)

    the joy of simply hearing a friendly voice will be more of a gift and indeed a life line than you could ever imagine

May you know Joy and Blessing in any and all of the above

The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace

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