Dear Friends,

For the second year running, as a result of the regulations imposed on us due to the Covid Pandemic, as a church we have been denied the opportunity to involve ourselves in CHRISTIAN AID week. I had been looking forward to taking part in the Sunday Afternoon sponsored walk in and around the City of London, visiting upwards of 20 of the churches in the vicinity, each with their own peculiar history. But at the very least it does us good to be reminded that even though traditional methods of fund-raising may have had to be cancelled, nevertheless the need remains and the work goes on. Indeed, in the aftermath of Covid, and with our own Govt reducing the amount it gives in foreign aid, there will be even greater demands being made upon the resources of CHRISTIAN AID, their partner agencies and other like-minded organisations. We have often been reminded that we are presently living through is a GLOBAL pandemic, and no one person, no one country is any more or any less deserving than any other when it comes to mitigating its effects. When for ‘understandable’ political reasons national Govts. concentrate their immediate efforts on dealing with the situation ‘at home’ as it were, the very existence of the likes of CHRISTIAN AID serves as a timely reminder to us all that ultimately there can be no discrimination – political, cultural, social, religious – because we are all human beings and as such are all deserving of the dignity that being human ought to afford to each one of us…I know that a number of you have made donations to CHRISTIAN AID in the past, and if you would like to do so again, please contact me and we can arrange for you to have an envelope for that purpose…As a church we have been very grateful for the very generous financial support we have received from members of the church and congregation as well as from other friends and supporters. And as is often said, ‘Charity begins at home’; but to put it another way, ‘Charity BEGINS at home’, but it doesn’t END there. Just because this last year has posed a real challenge to us, financially, we have to be aware that it is exactly the same for all other charities. And so, whether it is our own individual giving, or whether it is what we as a Church give, we have to continue to be aware that we have a responsibility to engage directly, practically, generously even sacrificially with the needs of the wider world. It is all too easy to ‘pull up the drawbridge’, or ‘circle the wagons’, or whatever other metaphor we care to employ. We need to continue to be open-hearted, and open-handed as far as our support for an increasingly needy world is concerned…But we are also being reminded that this week has been designated MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS week. Not so much an appeal for money, but rather a plea to take seriously just how many people’s mental health has suffered during these last fifteen months in particular. No one is immune from the effects of poor mental health, and that is why all of us should be sensitive in the way we interact with one another. With mental health especially, appearances can be deceptive. A forced smile can hide any amount of hurt, anguish even despair. And when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we should remember that, for our own sakes.