Stanwick Group of Churches

October 2020

During these past few months we have become increasingly aware of how our fitness and general health impact on our chances of being made seriously ill by Covid 19. Many people have tried to make little improvements to health and well-being by spending a bit more time outside in the sun and fresh air, and by doing a bit more exercise, whether that be getting around by bike or foot, tuning into Joe Wicks ‘the Body Coach’, dancing around in the living room, or pottering in the garden.

As we begin to move towards the colder, darker months, that extra bit of effort is needed to keep ourselves as fit as and healthy as we can. Thankfully, there’s plenty in the October calendar to inspire and help us.

For smokers, ‘Stoptober’ is back and while lockdown may have increased smoking habits there’s probably no better time than now to take up the challenge and attempt to quit smoking for a month and beyond.

October Harvest Festivals (4 October here) and World Food Day (16 October) remind us of issues such as food security and poverty, that affect the health of our planet and its people, as well as the benefits to all of us of eating fresh, seasonal food from pumpkin and swede, to apples and cabbages, to pheasants and venison.

During lockdown enthusiasm for growing fruit and vegetables at home soared and for fresh eggs too - one chicken rehoming charity has had over 52,000 requests for hens since lockdown began. Meanwhile farmers have continued to work round the clock, in what has been a difficult year, not just because of Covid but because of changeable weather and new agricultural policy. The harvest festival season is an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to farmers and also an opportunity to start / restart the spiritually healthy habit of saying Grace before meals, being mindful of both those who produce our food and of those who go without.

At our Benefice harvest celebration we will be collecting food donations for the Storehouse Foodbank and also a cash collection for the Churches Conservation Trust and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution. One of the areas in which RABI provides support for farmers and their families is in the area of mental health. Financial pressures, long working hours and isolation are just some of the causes of anxiety and depression among farmers.

During these last months there have been extra challenges for people’s mental well-being in all walks of life. Millions have experienced loss, trauma, grief, isolation, relationship breakdown, domestic abuse, stress, and financial worries, just to mention a few of the pressures. It is expected that the need for mental health and psychosocial support will substantially increase in the coming months and years. This year the goal of World Mental Health Day (10 Oct) will be a much needed increased investment in mental health. For us in our communities, there is a need for mental health to be something we can talk about more openly, and with compassion and love.

Healing, whether of body, mind or spirit has always had a central place in the Christian faith. When we read the stories of Jesus one of the things that stands out is the way in which he healed people. Sometimes he healed them from physical illness, sometimes it was from anxiety or depression. On other occasions he released people from a sense that they were held captive by forces they could not understand. In each of these situations, Jesus responded to the particular needs of those he met by offering healing and restoring them to wholeness of life.

For many centuries the Church was at the centre of care for the sick, as witnessed by the Christian foundation of many of our hospitals. The role of the church has changed as the medical and nursing professions have developed, but the ministry of healing is still as important: the ministry of healing through friendship, forgiveness, listening, acceptance and affirmation; the ministry of healing through prayer and sacrament.

On October 18 we celebrate St Luke’s Day, the patron saint of physicians and doctors. As we celebrate St Luke, we acknowledge that we all need healing in some way and we are invited to place our trust in a God who continues to meet us in our everyday life at our point of need. Healing comes in many forms: acceptance of illness or disability; physical recovery; deliverance from worry, fear, anger or depression; the healing of memories; the restoration of self-image or the removal of a burden of shame.  

We have been through some really difficult months and so I pray that this October you may each be blessed with good mental, physical and spiritual health, ready for every challenge and joy to come.

God bless,


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