Greetings in this Pentecost season.
We are finding our way into this new stage, of living differently as a church and community with the challenges of COVID 19. Many of us have learned afresh how to be the church in physical isolation, worshipping and gathering, serving and singing – wonderfully – in new ways.
Some of us have struggled, with loneliness or uncertainty; resources have been hard to access, or technology out of our reach.
My mind has turned a lot recently to the extraordinary book of Exodus, when Moses has led the people of Israel out of Egypt and the gloss of triumphant escape has started to wear off. Suddenly, captivity under Pharaoh doesn’t look too bad, as they wander in the wilderness, waiting for a future.
Isolation has been a challenge for almost everyone. However, as we try to negotiate living and worshipping in slowly-restored numbers, with physical distancing, complying with guidelines and wondering about our safety in the new environment, isolation might begin to look pretty palatable.
You will have received new guidelines for worship and gatherings, for funerals and weddings and small groups. They may appear to be pretty onerous. This is about caring for people at risk, for people we know and love, and for the risks to our faith communities and the wider community around us.
How will we attend to God’s Spirit leading us through these times? This is new territory for us, and uncertainty can creep in. How are we the people of God, worshipping, witnessing and serving, in this new terrain?
May I suggest that perhaps we are where we are meant to be? What if God intends to use us precisely here?
We need to learn how to adapt and change so that we can welcome new people into discipleship and faith. We need to prioritise children and young people, and that requires us to think in new ways. We need to learn how to make sacrifices with our property and finances to resource new ministries and communities across our Synod.
What if the challenges of this coronavirus season are teaching us how to sing the Lord’s song in new ways?
Be assured of my continuing prayers for our Church. Be equally assured of my prayers for those who find this season too difficult. And be certain that I am praying for new opportunities, new ministries, new discernment as we navigate these times under the mercy and generosity of our God.
May the flame of the Spirit guide your every step,
may the breath of the Spirit inspire each and every word,
and may the wind of the Spirit urge you into action.