Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 10th March 2024

Dear Friends, Recently a few Friends and I attended the World Day of Prayer service which had been compiled by an ecumenical group of Christian women from Palestine where the Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 10th March 2024

Dear Friends,

Recently a few Friends and I attended the World Day of Prayer service which had been compiled by an ecumenical group of Christian women from Palestine where the Christian faith began. During that time together we sang a song/hymn by Fred Kaan in which each verse started ‘Put peace into each other’s hands’. What better loving gift can we give each other? Whoever we are, whatever our faith, religion, or non-belief this is a positive ingredient for all relationships. Over the years, as I look back on my church and Quaker experience, I realise there are people whose very presence in a group helps the group to come together. Sometimes it is a couple whose togetherness extends into their wider milieu. Sometimes it is singles who bring with them something of the strength of a dynamic community life.In the context of current news from Israel/Palestine, Ukraine, Russia, and other parts of the world, how can we not be distressed on hearing about human suffering and injustice on such a large scale? I don’t know the answer. All I know is that how we react to profound injustices and making others aware of them needs to be done carefully and prayerfully. Some time in the 1980s, I heard a senior Labour Party former minister inform someone in a Lewes audience that if you have a good case there is no need to exaggerate. Probably for all of us news of injustices and other suffering will resonate with events in our own experience, and this can upset us, especially if we haven’t in the past been able to deal adequately with our feelings. I remember with enormous gratitude the opportunity I had about 30 years ago of writing-out the left-over problems I had with some people I had known in the Anglican Church. It was a hugely healing experience in which over a period of 2-3 months I typed letters to a nun who ‘listened’ to my sad story, accepted what I wrote, and always ended her replies with ‘love, joy, peace’. As a result I felt able to forgive in such a way that now I can’t really remember what it was I had been writing about. This process of finding peace worked for me because I was able to be as honest as I possibly could about the problem, and the nun was big enough and wise enough to be a good listener and not to take any of it personally. It was a deep-down experience of learning to forgive and forget.Friends don’t go in for rituals, so this may seem strange, but Anglicans around the world have a space in their eucharistic liturgy for reminding one another of the Peace of Christ. Some congregations just shake hands with neighbours, others embrace, but the best I have experienced was when a strong group of Zulu people went round the church with enthusiasm embracing everyone – a true gesture of peace towards the end of the apartheid era. I guess that in troubled times to possess one’s soul in peace is a spiritual challenge in which we can all help each other – ‘put peace into each other’s hands’.With love fromCarolineon behalf of the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (David Hitchin, Chris Lawson, Tim Pitt-Payne, Caroline Pybus, Theresa Samms and Nancy Wall)