Winter in the Workplace. Revd Dr Jenny McKay
Well, what a year 2020 was! This time last year we were receiving sporadic reports of a few outbreaks of a new flu virus in Asia, but little did the general public know what that would really mean for the year ahead. Dave and I had returned at the end of January from a snowshoe holiday in France although there was little snow in the Southern French Alps due to changes in seasonal snowfall and we had to climb quite high to see any. That was our last holiday abroad. Then, in February, a number of us in work had to fly out to Portugal for a Lab Leaders’ Meeting and we were starting to feel a bit nervous as colleagues from Korea, Japan and Italy were told not to fly due to escalating flu cases. By the end of the week, those of us who had managed the trip were feeling decidedly anxious and there was a real feeling of foreboding in the airport on the trip back home where everyone just wanted to get home safely in time. In time for what? We didn’t know but it was an almost apocalyptic feeling. In fact, while in Portugal I had also learned that Cransley High School had been shut due to coronavirus fears after Italy ski-trip pupils were showing flu-like symptoms. The disease was now literally on our doorstep!
Almost one year ago, who could have imagined that people would be working from home, life would carry on and those of us who had always been present and “needed” in the laboratory were now confined to home?
On the 4th Sunday of Advent I talked about the song “Lord of The Dance” by Sydney Carter. In it, Jesus dances through people’s lives, inviting them to join him. Sydney also wrote another powerful song about this dancing God, and the danger of trying to trap him, or keep him still. It’s called “The Bird of Heaven” and it tells us that if we try to hold God down or control him, that we will “look again tomorrow, and he will be gone.” You, like me, may not like to be constrained at home but during this pandemic the Holy Spirit has certainly not been constrained within church buildings, and we’ve seen time and again how the church has adapted with new types of services, social media and many people who may never have thought much about Christianity are now really asking questions about faith.
All of us with faith are being looked at to answer questions about why this pandemic has happened and what it all means. Sometimes it can be difficult to feel ready for these challenging questions. However, think about Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was and is an inspiration. An ordinary woman chosen to fulfil God’s purpose for his people. As Luke tells us, the angel appeared to her and said “you are the favoured one!” Because Mary loved God and followed Him she had the confidence to agree. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled’ she said.
Whatever happens this year, where ever we are, whatever place or time, God calls us to follow Jesus and to let him guide our steps into the unknown future. I try and remember that when being a presence in the workplace even if that is virtual! If we dare to open our hearts to God, and to the world around us, and to the difference God can make in people’s lives, the dance of 2021 will go on.
Blessings to you all,