I began this letter sitting at dad’s house waiting for the gas man to come and repair dad’s boiler, no heating but plenty of hot water. Thankfully dad is in St Marys Mount at the moment and enjoying every minute. My thoughts drifted to where we are as a world at this moment. We have to stay at home, keep our distance and wash hands. Unfortunately this means contact with our communities is very limited. The few people we come into contact with, either by phone or electronic media, are absolutely delighted that we have bothered to contact them. As a member of the clergy team I am conscious of the restricted pastoral care we can give to our community, often when they are in dire need of it. Time on the phone or social media do not seem the same as a face to face conversation, it always seems to be lacking something. The same applies to our worship, I know that Members of the team do a sterling job creating online worship for our area congregations, even farther afield. Distant worship, distant learning and distant pastoral care, our contact with others becomes more remote. I sometimes feel we are all turning into a modern Robinson Crusoe cut off from the world and all alone.
Our thoughts are concentrated on the future, when will this pandemic end, when will I be free to go out and mix with family and friends and when will we back to normal?
For many there will be a time when, although free to come and go as you choose, the spectre of the virus and fear of contagion will be always there, hovering in the background. Some will experience a time of new beginning building up new friendships and contacts. All of us in some way will have to build up our lives virtually (the pun is intended) from scratch. How that will shape our lives and communities we do not know. Can we carry on as before the pandemic? In some ways we as a church will be like the original disciples setting out to build the new church that Jesus empowered them to do. In a way we will be sharing the same questions as those disciples. What do we do? How do we do it? Should we do it this way or that way? Do we have enough people and resources to continue? Have people’s expectations or approach to worship changed, especially after experiencing different styles of worship on line. Have we as Christians changed inside after lockdown or self-isolation or shielding?
As I said to the congregation at Marchington, at the end of my only service this year, be of good heart, God will see us through. As followers of Jesus we are used to having to wait on the Lord and this isolation should be treated as a time of waiting and a time of prayer that will reinforce our own inner belief in God and a time to prepare us to for the time we can gather again to worship and minister fully to all God’s people.
All God’s blessings.