Rev'd Ness Starkey - March 2020

Post date: Apr 3, 2020 10:19:17 AM

Clergy Letter

This month we are grateful to the Rev'd Ness Starkey, who

ministers at Balderstone St Leonard, for writing the letter for

the United Benefice magazines.

There’s a saying that’s doing the social media rounds at the moment. It’s also appearing on (expensive) T-shirts and mugs. Ironically, popular though this phrase is, because of the lack of the very quality that is shouted from the many different platforms that proclaim it, a young, female celebrity felt hounded to death and she is not alone. What are these words? “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

Caroline Flack was struggling. She was vulnerable and she was under the intense scrutiny of the public gaze because she was a celebrity. She experienced kindness as something that was in very short supply, even though her boyfriend, family and friends tried to support her, encourage her and demonstrate how much they love her. The media and social media weren’t kind. She was subject to hideous trolling and character assassination. Various psychological studies have shown that it takes a minimum of three positive experiences to overcome the psychological damage and pain arising from just one negative experience. A culture of kindness might have helped Caroline to cope with the difficult business of living under a microscope where one moment you’re held up as a paragon of all that is perfect and the next, tumble from grace to be demonised. “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

Traditionally, in Lent, we voluntarily give something up, to bring alive the story of Jesus’ privations, as he fasted in the desert for forty days. By the time you read this, we’ll be well into Lent and you’ll already have decided whether to give up various yummy foods and/or drinks or maybe you’re going for zero single use plastics, or shopping only at local markets and independent shops. We’re aware of many kinds of “fasts”, these days and that’s brilliant. Perhaps you can be persuaded, as an aspect of Lenten work, to take on something extra?

Jesus wasn’t a two-dimensional, soppily over-emotional character. He was strong, challenging and yet, he was endlessly kind. In your parishes, I have been the grateful recipient of much kindness. I have been warmly welcomed and encouraged. You have graciously overlooked my (many and various!) shortcomings. Thank you! From what I’ve experienced, there is kindness aplenty here. Speaking from my own perspective, it’s very easy to be kind on Sunday morning in these sacred spaces and yet, can I sustain kindness throughout the week? With God’s help, I pray so!

This extra Lenten fast then, is this…….”In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”