a letter from Carla Grosch-Miller to a congregation

From the Minister

Dear Friends,

As I sit at my desk and write this, I am aware of a tumult of emotion: deep concern for you and for all, a sense of being unmoored and unsettled, fear, numbness, great love and a morsel of hope. I imagine that you too since the outbreak of Covid-19 have been unsettled, concerned, afraid, numb, loving, hopeful and had other surprising emotions. The first thing I want to say is that, whatever you are experiencing, it is completely normal. It is how you – your nervous system, with your life experience – strive to cope with an overwhelming and uncertain situation. Speak kindly to yourself; acknowledge the confusion and challenge of these times; breathe deeply.

We are the children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and more of people who came through the Great War, the Spanish influenza, the Great Depression, the Blitz, and the deprivations of World War II and the Austerity. We are survivors. There is in us a reserve of strength and wisdom that will accompany us through this pandemic. Recall how you have survived other challenges; draw lessons from your own experience and that of others.

Our Bible was created by people who endured great traumas and rose to rebuild their lives and even sing praises to God who made us and whose love never lets us go. From slavery in Egypt and forty years wilderness wandering, to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and the Exile, through to the crucifixion of Jesus and the persecution of early Followers of the Way, they knew that the only way through hard times is to cling to God and to their communities of faith and to move through the crisis. They accepted the harsh reality of life and leaned into it, doing what they had to do.

Dozens of times in the scriptures people are told “do not fear”. They are told it because fear is real and there are dangers. Fear is not a moral failing; it can be realistic, or a warning, or information about the need to tread carefully. We cannot eradicate fear – nor would we want to. But we can remind ourselves that fear must not have the last word. The empty tomb is a testament to the power of love over fear, and love never dies. So when fear arises, we breathe deep and draw on those reserves of strength and wisdom our forbears gave us. We rise and walk the way of faith, remembering as the writer of 2 Timothy 1:7 said, that God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

My prayer for all of us in these difficult times is that we will connect with those deep reserves and that we will use our power, our love and our self-discipline to keep ourselves and each other as safe and healthy as possible. The best antidotes to fear are love and laughter – so stay connected to loved ones and enjoy the good things in life that are before you; breathe fresh air every day; move; phone a friend or someone who needs one. Pray the psalms – the ancients kept an open channel to God; the invitation stands for us also to speak the truth of our feelings to the One who holds the world in a wide embrace, and then to listen. Read a gospel through; deep springs of living water will refresh. We have what we need.

In Christian love,  Carla

Revd Dr. Carla A. Grosch-Miller, UK