Pastoral letter from Richard Steven, The Rectory, Herstmonceux Tel 01323 833124

e mail: ra_steven@hotmail.com

Dear Church Members and Friends,

Last year I did a pastoral letter on some of the good things that had happened in the previous year. Having had a maintenance man visit us today who thought we are all doomed and might not be here by the time he is due back in a years' time, I thought it might be time for another such review of some very good things that have happened in the past year! It took only 12 months from the Covid pathogen being identified to a vaccine being approved, this apparently was the fastest rate for vaccine ever to be developed. 

This happened as a result of brilliant researchers, international cooperation, extensive resources, modern technology, and much prayer. I believe these vaccines are both a result of good science and miracles. In data released from Cambridge University at the end of July this year, it was estimated that 60,000 lives had been saved and over 22 million Covid infections had been prevented in England alone since the vaccination programme started here in December last year. How truly wonderful! 

Also, in April this year news was released from the University of Oxford that a malaria vaccine has proved to be 77% effective in early trials and could be a major breakthrough against this disease. Many vaccines have been trialed over the years, but this is the first to meet the required target. Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through mosquito bites. 

Although preventable and curable, the World Health Organization estimates there were 229 million cases worldwide in 2019 and 409,000 deaths. Larger trials will now be carried out across four African countries to confirm the findings. Also Following a 70-year effort, in June China was awarded a malaria-free certification from the World Health Organisation – an amazing feat for a country that reported 30 million cases of the disease annually in the 1940s. This eradication has been achieved by the use of antimalarial medicines for people at risk of the disease as well as treatment for those who had fallen ill. The country also made a major effort to reduce mosquito breeding grounds and stepped up the use of insecticide spraying. 

Worldwide, 40 countries and territories have been declared Malaria free by the W.H.O. Regarding the area of planet care, Last October Prince William and David Attenborough launched the Earthshot Prize. From 2021 until 2030, Prince William, along with The Earthshot Prize Council, which covers six continents, will award a very considerable prize of £1 million pounds to five winners each year. The prize aims to find new solutions to environmental challenges and improve living standards, particularly for those communities that are most at risk from the climate crisis. 

And last, but not least, and also really close to home. England’s largest ocean rewilding scheme began in April this year, off the Sussex coast, with the aim to plant eight hectares of seagrass meadows – which are incredible habitats for marine creatures, as well as absorbing carbon 35 times faster than a rainforest. Because of things like these we should all be thankful, positive, and hopeful. 

These British initiatives are encouraging, but of course none of our hopes on them are absolutely guaranteed or will last permanently. Can we find true hope that will never fail, so that we can always be positive? 

Billy Graham writes “Sometimes we hope for things in which there is no hope. A car can’t bring true hope; it can bring a feeling of contentment and exhilaration, but not real hope. Financial stability can’t bring true hope; it can bring security and a level of ease, but not true hope. A spouse can’t bring true hope because a spouse’s abilities are limited to what he or she can control. True hope comes from the One who created hope: God. True hope comes by trusting God even when circumstances are difficult. One way to know whether you’re trusting God is whether you’re obeying his Word. Trust produces obedience, which produces hope, which results in joy and peace; and that is the power of the Holy Spirit.

St Paul wrote regarding this true hope that we can all have to his fellow Christians: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15v13

Readings for the next two + weeks:

 Thursday AM Ps 149v1-5 Luke 6v27-38 PM Ps 47 John 12v1-19 

Friday AM Ps 16 Luke 6v39-42 PM Ps 53 John 12v20-end 

Saturday AM Ps 113 Luke 6v43-end PM Ps 59 John 13 

 Sunday 12th Sept AM Ps 116v1-8 Mark 8v27-end PM Ps 119v73-88 Matt 28 

 Mon AM Ps 28 Luke 7v1-10 PM Ps 69 John 14v1-14 

Tuesday AM Ps 22v23-28 John 3v13-17 PM Ps 73 John 14v15-end 

Wednesday AM Ps 111v1-5 Luke 7v31-35 PM Ps 78 John 15 

Thurs AM Ps 111v6-end Luke 7v36-end PM Ps 82 John 16v1-15 

Friday AM Ps 48v1-9 Luke 8v1-3 PM Ps 89 John 16v16-end 

Saturday AM Ps 100 Luke 8v4-15 PM Ps 93 John 17 

 Sunday 19th Sept AM Ps 1 Mark 9v30-37 PM Ps 119v105-120 Eph 5v22-6v9 

 Mon AM Ps 126 Luke 8v16-18 PM Ps 104 Matt 6v19-end 

Tues St Matthew AM Ps 119v65-72 Matt 9v9-13 PM Ps 106 1Tim 6v8-6-19 

Wed AM Ps 103v1-6 Luke 9v1-6 PM Ps 108 John 19v1-30 

Thurs AM Ps 149v1-5 Luke 9v7-9 PM Ps 114 John 19v31-end 

Friday AM Ps 43 Luke 9v18-22 PM Ps 119v1-32 

Saturday AM Ps 125 Luke 9v43b-45 PM Ps119v73-104 John 21 

Sunday 26th Sept AM Ps 124 Mark 9v36-end PM Ps120 Eph 6v10-end 

Monday AM Ps 102 Luke 9v46-50 PM Ps 126 Luke 1v1-23 

Tuesday AM Ps 87 Luke 9v51-56 PM Ps 136 Luke 1v24-5

Please pray for one another using the church prayer sheet, & please pray especially for: Jean Dryden, Jackie Fuller, Sue Freeman, Mick Goodsell, Brian and Dot Goulder, Gill Hurle, Derek Wells. And for the family and friends of Elizabeth Goodsell and Doreen Pugh