I’ve just had a few days away with my family, which, although wet and windy, were a very welcome change of scene and a chance to spend quality time with the children. Of course, I tuned into Woking URC on Sunday morning and was very blessed by the service led by our friend David Netherwood. What I wasn’t expecting while away was a government announcement of another lockdown.
We have been so busy preparing for our first in-person Sunday service (which as you know was planned to be on Sunday 8th) and now, unfortunately, those plans will have to wait and we will continue as we have been. We have been grateful for your patience and flexibility thus far and I know that will continue. (On that note, I do want to say thank you for the many messages of encouragement I receive, they are such a blessing!).
You, like me, will no doubt be thinking ahead to Christmas and wondering what that’s going to be like. Perhaps we will be able to have an in-person service as well as our live streams – who knows. Throughout this pandemic my mantra has been that I will take my problems one at a time! When I haven’t had a clue about how things will work or what the next step will be, the path has always become clear, even if it was a little later in the day than I’d have liked! Faith, not fear! What we can be confident of is that all the darkness of this world and our current situation won’t stop the light from getting through.
One thing that has helped me in my ministry is taking advantage of some online courses this year. As academic institutions adapt, one of the helpful things to emerge is easier access to online learning. My latest endeavour is a course with the University of Glasgow which I’m doing, along with our Church & Community Worker, David, on Monday evenings. It’s entitled ‘Managing Difficult Church Change’ (do understand that it’s the change that’s difficult, not the church!!!). It’s a real treat to be able to engage with brilliant teaching staff and other church leaders from all sorts of places (but mainly Scotland) who are facing similar challenges to us.
Doing such a course gives a good opportunity for reflection and has highlighted just how special our church family is. As I reflect on my (very nearly) 15 years among you I can look back and see the guiding hand of our faithful God among us. In fact, the relentless faithfulness of God has taken my breath away at times and it is a privilege to journey alongside you all.
As we enter this next period of lockdown, I want to reiterate my message of earlier months – if you need help, feel lonely or just want to talk, please get in touch. You can contact me, David Tuson or any of our elders. It’s hard not seeing one another week after week, we don’t have the opportunities for chats and to support each other in the usual ways. Please remember the church is alive and active and here for you – but we do have to rely on you to a certain extent to tell us when you are in need so that we can respond.
Similarly, please keep in touch with one another. If someone comes into your mind, assume it is the prompting of the Holy Spirit and give them a ring or send a message. Let’s care for one another and keep the light shining.