God, living and breathing in our Church

This week’s letter is from Revd Helen Everard

Looking back at my diary I find it’s almost exactly 12 months since I said goodbye to you all as my student placement ended. It really was “au revoir” not goodbye, especially since I have been regularly attending on-line worship from Woking URC on Sundays and Wednesdays. I have also been able to participate, contributing prayers for others and even a sermon. I would like to say thank you to those who contacted me afterwards to say how much they had appreciated my contribution. It is a strange feeling preaching a sermon and seeing only yourself on the screen! You have to trust a bit more in the power of the Holy Spirit, that the words you have prepared, and your delivery will reach out to people watching.

When Lucy and her family are live from their living room, there are ways that the community watching can respond and, having done similar live worship for High Cross Church in Camberley it is really encouraging to see those likes and hearts as you speak. It seems such a small thing, but it brings great blessings.

I am enjoying exploring the Acts of the Apostles. I was reflecting after Easter how the lockdown experience for us was similar to the first disciples and this was a great comfort to me. I have often felt a bit intimidated by the experience of the early church – those thousands of people being baptised having heard Peter’s preaching…my own preaching even my own witness seems to fall well short of that. However, studying the whole of Acts and feeling connected to those early believers I have realised how much they had to struggle with their own circumstances and how much the Holy Spirit helped them.

I spent quite a lot of time in June helping to prepare the worship for General Assembly which some of you may have watched on 11 July. John Bradbury’s idea was to have a prayer of thanksgiving for the way that local churches had responded to the challenge of proclaiming the Good news of Jesus whilst being unable to use their buildings and to use photos. At the time of writing this I have no idea how the prayer will look, but having seen some of the many photos sent in there is no doubt that the Holy Spirit is alive and active, helping communities express their faith, hope and love in lots of different ways, all individual to the local church. At the same time, technology both old and new has enabled congregations to expand beyond local and reach out to each other across wide distances, becoming visible and audible to many who might not have dreamed of entering a church building.

I truly believe that this is God working in and through our church today, giving us blessings for today and hope for tomorrow. We really don’t know what the future will look like but, just like the early Church, God is living and working in our world, in unexpected ways both large and small, breathing life into our daily walk with Jesus.

And to close, a blessing despite social distancing: a beautiful photo of 4 generations: my dad Peter, me, my son, Michael, and baby Charlotte able to meet in my garden!

God bless you all