Tuesday 31 March 2020

Jayne Edinboro - Reader at All Saints Whitstable

Jayne Edinboro is one of our two Readers at All Saints Whitstable

Jayne has spent all her working life in the legal profession and ran her own business for many years, juggling a home, husband, children and work, as well as church life. A keen singer Jayne has sung in church choirs since a school girl. It was from here that Jayne came to lay ministry, training as a Reader and subsequently being admitted to the Ministry in the Rochester Diocese in 2002 and the Ministry of Evangelist in 2004. A volunteer chaplain at several hospitals in both the acute sector and mental health sector for many years Jayne is now settling down to life in Whitstable.

Jayne writes as follows:

As I sit at my desk looking out on our garden on a beautiful spring day watching the Blackbirds peck for worms and our two garden Robins watch me from their perch on the cherry blossom I find myself reflecting on life – mine particularly. The lockdown imposed by our Government has been a rare opportunity for me to take time out from the merry-go-round of life and simply “be”. (I suspect like most of you, kind enough to read this page). I have no pearls of wisdom – just reflections and these thoughts are my own.
 As I look back down the years I linger at my days as a volunteer hospital chaplain – it was an interesting and frequently heart wrenching time, being with people when they were at their most vulnerable. I discovered a sad truth – people generally only called for the chaplain when they are at their lowest ebb.

I was frequently faced with the question “why” – “why has God let this happen to me/my loved one?” I never found it very easy to answer - even with a number of years of theological training behind me, I felt my response was too text book, almost mechanical, not from the heart – but in most cases it seemed to bring comfort. Fast forward a few years and suddenly I was faced with the unthinkable – my husband who always seemed so strong and invincible was diagnosed with terminal cancer– I too cried out from the bottom of my heart at the unfairness of it all  – “why God why?” The text book answers were of no help, my training did not help – God is with you in your suffering, God too suffers – we were never promised immunity from pain in this life etc etc. One helpful person even tried to tell me that God never gives us more than we can cope with – that went down like a lead balloon - my faith teetered for what seemed like an eternity. Easy to believe in a loving God when life is going well. I found the writings of Mother Teresa a great comfort – I was not alone in my doubts of a caring God.
I think it is fair to say it was an extremely difficult period for me and my children but in time – a very long time -  I came to accept that yes God really is with us in our pain and suffering, holds us and comforts us if we ask him into our lives and eventually,  I resumed my ministry with perhaps more understanding and empathy. I was helped by a friend who not only recommended specific bible passages to read but gave me a book – Philip Yancy “Where is God When it Hurts?” I have read it many times over the years and found it really helpful in putting pain into some kind of perspective and God’s part in helping us with the pain of life.
Now during the Coronavirus pandemic, like most people I sit night after night watching the News, the terrible statistics, the pain of people throughout the world, the deaths, the sights of priests in Spain and Italy blessing churches full of coffins, the brain recoils in horror from what it sees and what it hears and once again  I find myself  asking the question “why God why?”

I have had to remind myself of the truth I discovered all those years ago – God does care, but he is not a puppet master controlling our lives as Adam and Eve discovered. We have freedom of choice and we exercise those choices for good or bad and we have to live with the consequences of those choices. Sometimes what happens to us is of our own making at other times it is just life.   The New Testament and the message of Christ crucified is that of a loving and caring God. A God who sent his son into the world to be born to a young virgin, illegitimate, a refuge for two years, brought up in a poor village, an itinerate preacher who knew what it was to lose a much-loved friend.

 In John Chapter 11 verse 35 we find the shortest verse in the King James version of the Bible “And Jesus Wept”. That short sentence gives me so much comfort – Jesus not only understands our pain but has experienced it too. By living among us he experienced life in every sense.
In times of crisis as in any other times in our lives it seems to me that we can either put our trust in God or we can turn away – but of one thing I am certain – God never turns away from us his children – he feels our pain and if we hold out our hand to him he will take it, enfold us in his love and help us and support us – however we have to accept it may not always be in the way we want or expect.

The birds have now left the garden and dusk has arrived. I wish you all God’s peace and blessing at this difficult time and leave you with the following bible verses on which I have been meditating:

“Be still and know that I am God” – PSALM 46:10

“Casting all your worries on him, because he cares for you – 1 Peter 5:7

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

God Bless

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