We’re nearly halfway through 2020 and it has been different to any other year we’ve ever lived through. I’ve had so many conversations and exchanges with people during this pandemic where we’ve reflected together on the struggles but also on the things that we will want to take away from this time and the lessons we’ve learnt. Here are some of the themes that have emerged during the conversations, perhaps you’ll relate to some of them, or could add your own reflections…
• We’ve been more in touch with the natural world, noticing things, hearing the birds and watching things grow. Dare we hope that environmental lessons will be learnt from the lockdown period as our plants have had a chance to breath?
• We’ve learnt to live without many of the luxuries we’re used to and, while we miss those things, we are savouring the little things more – a home cooked meal, a call from a friend, a letter in the post, a cup of tea, our favourite TV programme…
• We’ve been doing less dashing! I am someone who ‘dashes’ a lot and, while it’s fair to say that this time has been busy, it has brought a welcome pause from the constant stream of appointments in different locations!
• We’ve realised that being brothers and sisters in Christ is profound and that we have a very strong sense of family in the church. We miss being together, but we know we still all belong to one another.
• There are many big things which we cannot control, and so focusing on the smaller things we can is important, such as how we spend our time, having meaningful conversations with others, looking after our mental and physical wellbeing, and nurturing our spiritual life.
• God is still God. We read passages from the Bible, sing familiar hymns, whisper our prayers and are reminded that God is unchanging. God is over and above all of this and yet deeply and personally involved in what we are experiencing.
• We’re not sure what’s going to happen or when things will look ‘normal’ again. We long for the things we miss, but we are also anxious and cautious about returning to them.
Last week I wrote in an email to you all the following message…
Some of you may be wondering what the recent government announcement about the opening of places of worships means for Woking URC. At the moment it is too early to say when any activity might be able to take place on our premises, but in order to manage expectations, I think it’s only right to share that, because of social distancing and other strict safety factors required, as well as planned work on the site, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to gather for worship for quite some time. I realise that this is very disappointing for some, while others are feeling very cautious and have advised that they wouldn’t be comfortable gathering together yet anyway. Please be reassured that the Elders, Property Convenor and I are constantly reviewing the situation and carefully planning for our return in the safest way we can. Please be patient, keep praying and worshipping from your homes and remember to keep alert for the work of the Holy Spirit in this strangest of times. We know that God is always at work, often in ways we least expect, and is with us in every moment. May you know his blessings.
I would like to add to this by asking for your prayers for those of us who have the difficult task of paving a way through this situation on behalf of our church and making decisions about what can happen when. We are in a tricky time. Never before have we been in a situation where we long to be together but know that by doing so we could be putting one another at risk. (Let us make sure we are praying too for our political leaders who have the unenviable task of steering the country through.)
Please be patient. We would rather be cautious than do anything in a rush because we want to keep each another safe.
Our little Toby, who turned 5 recently, breathed a heavy sigh the other day and said, ‘I miss normal church.’ His brothers and sister are ok, but he really misses his friends! We want to let you all know that we miss you very much, that you are in our prayers. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or any of our team, we will be glad to hear from you.