How will Church look next?

Dear Friends,

As I write, the school term has just come to an end. It comes with mixed feelings for us and many parents this year. It’s been a tricky time for children as they’ve had to adapt to learning at home, missing their friends and trying to understand what’s going on in the world. We have been supporting home learning for four months, and, I have to say, I won’t be sorry to be able to leave that behind now!

Some of it has been great fun – searching for mini beasts in the garden, watching the children create lovely pieces of art, watching them problem solve and being reminded why I loved maths so much as a child. But there have been many challenges as we’ve all struggled with the new routines (or lack of them), got to grips with multiple online platforms, groaned at yet more grammar that none of us understands (do you know what a subjunctive clause is?!) and tried to keep motivation levels up. I have an enormous admiration for teachers and look forward to handing all my children back to them in September! It’s been an unusual time and one from which we will take many memories.

You will have heard during the Sunday services that Leonie, our Children & Youth Worker, assisted by others including Alison Warlow, have been producing ‘Sermon Challenges’ for the children to use during the second part of the service. This is no easy task because it needs to be something the children can get on with themselves, as well as appealing to a wide age range. There have been some great challenges, and these paper chain prayers are the result of one of them. Keep sending in the photos because we love to see them! The other lovely picture is of Kaylah determined not to miss the puppy puppet during the Acts of the A-Puppets!

In so many aspects of life, we are having to be creative, flexible and make the best of the circumstances we find ourselves in. One of the biggest challenges that lies on my desk is thinking about how things could look in terms of our use of the church building and any other gatherings going forward. As I said recently, we intend to review the situation when the elders meet again in September and much prayer will be going into seeking God’s will for our church in terms of when and how we gradually open things up.

Someone sent me the silly picture below recently which made me smile – but it does highlight just how hard the task is. Our first priority is to keep everyone as safe as possible because we know, sadly, that the virus is not going anywhere. I am so grateful for the many messages of support and prayer we have received.

At the moment there seem to be insurmountable challenges to overcome. How could I conduct a service whilst wearing a mask (which is now recommended by the URC)? How could we fit everyone in whilst still social distancing? What about those who are most vulnerable? How can we support the children and young people whilst not being able to provide groups for them? We don’t yet have answers to all these questions, but we trust that a way ahead will become clear. What we can be sure of is that God will not only guide and help us but will continue to work powerfully through whatever means we are able to function together.

One thing I particularly want to reiterate is that, in addition to our shared times together, each of us has a responsibility to nurture our own spiritual lives. We must all take seriously the need to put aside dedicated time for prayer, reading the Bible and connecting with Christian friends. If you would like help and support with this, please don’t hesitate to ask me, David Tuson or your elder. As we reminded ourselves early on in this pandemic, this is not ‘dead time’ in our spiritual lives, God is as present with us now as ever and longs to continue drawing us into a deeper relationship with him.

Another reminder is to please keep contacting others in the church family. When lock down first began, the amount of contact between members of our church family was brilliant but please don’t stop this now that the initial shock has worn off. The elders and pastoral assistants are still doing great work looking out for everyone, but much more than this is always needed. Don’t assume that people are ‘ok’ now that we are all able to go out a bit more. If someone comes into your mind, pick up the phone or send them a message, you never know, it may be the Holy Spirit prompting you to be the answer to someone else’s prayer.

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians 2 v6-7

In Christ, Lucy