By Rev Robert Barthram, Jan 31 2015 11:49AM
Over the last few days I have been filling in my diary for 2015 with all the dates, times and venues of events and meetings until Christmas. It is I expect what many of you have done recently planning and preparation for the future. Viv and I had done a lot of that towards the end of last year. There was for me all the usual preparation as a minister for Advent and Christmas, some of which was done earlier than normal as we knew a baby was due in early December so we would be disappearing for a few days. There was also extra preparation as many of our family would be here for Christmas and so much food etc. had been bought and the freezer was rather full.
As most of you will know our Christmas preparations came to an abrupt halt for our Grandson Harry was born on the 13th December.
His birth did not go to plan and as a result he has suffered irreparable brain damage. For three weeks over the Christmas period we were in hospitals or travelling between various hospitals and homes. Our freezer is still full. It was I think the first time since 1980 that I had not led worship on Christmas Day and at lunchtime that day it was a sandwich from the hospital canteen. We did manage to have the traditional fare later on but it was a very different occasion than had been envisaged and planned for. Harry has left hospital now much later than planned and is safely tucked up in his own cot under the loving watching care of his parents.
I am not implying that planning is a waste of time but rather that sometimes one just has to respond relying on God’s strength and guidance. An elderly man once told me years ago quoting someone else, ‘fail to plan and you plan to fail.’ but I was also told a minister’s life is, ‘dealing with interruptions.’ I’m sure this is true for others also. We don’t know what tomorrow holds but we make plans and then deal with what actually happens.
One of the reasons Viv and I were able to get through the last month was because of so many of you. Thank you from us both for your prayers and thoughts, your messages and of course those who stepped in to do things, some at very short notice. Some have said to me they wanted to write but couldn’t find the words. As there really are no words no one should feel bad about that. I would like however to quote from one email I received:
“The church family today comes in for many criticisms’ however it is that same church family and extended church family that are around you now, praying with all our love.”
We over the last weeks have truly felt the love and support that is the Church at its best.
I wish to share one final thought. Many hours were spent waiting in hospital rooms and corridors and I must have read all the notices and one in particular struck me. It was about the importance of parents comforting their baby with all the beneficial effect of this and the possible adverse effects of not doing so. I was reminded of words from the prophet Isaiah who often speaks of comfort from God and has such words as:
“You will be like a child that is nursed by its mother, carried in her arms, and treated with love. I will comfort you in Jerusalem, as a mother comforts her child. When you see this happen you will be glad; it will make you strong and healthy” (66: 12-14).
The people were told their God would comfort them as does a mother, ‘can a woman forget her sucking child? I will not forget you’ (49: 15). The same God does not forget us and comforts us and often by using one another.
Yours in Christ,