'What comes next?'

The pandemic goes on. Restrictions to how we live are lifting, but we mustn’t lose what we‘ve glimpsed: the latent potential for deeper community life, in which we put first things first.

We’ve been forced to re-evaluate our lives, and many have recognised that we’re actually happier when we slow down. We’ve spent more time together with some people, and loved it, and spent less time with some people, and missed them. We’ve looked at how so many people around us serve us, and need to be thanked, and we’ve developed rituals to do so. 

All of us are wondering what life will be like in the future. For many, whether we will still have a job is top of the list of concerns. For those with jobs, the question is what will their new working pattern be, and will they still be office based?

Such things usually lie outside our control: the government and our employer will decide. But there are fundamental things which do lie within our control.  For example, we can decide not to live at the pace we lived before. It will be hard, and it will doubtless involve saying ‘no’ to ourselves and others, but we can resist the pressure to return to how things were before, and live differently.

I’m thinking through what living differently might mean for church life. Sometimes the church has been no different to anyone else, being too busy. Perhaps one of the most important messages the church should stand for is that we’re all called to be human beings, before we’re called to be human doings. But that takes courage. It’s much easier to be lost in activity than it is to stop and face the silence. Yet the world has never needed places of stillness and humanity more, so we must, as the church, recapture ways to guard them.

The church historically has been rather good at ritual, helping people to mark important occasions and events through shared actions.  Such rituals come into their own at Christmas, Easter, Remembrance, and so on. It’s easy, however, for ritual to lose its heart and become empty. The way to avoid that happening is to remember a wise German saying:

              Tradition is the handing down of the flame, and not the worshipping of ashes.

It’s a particularly apt saying for the church to live by, as the Holy Spirit takes the form of a flame at Pentecost, and God speaks to Moses through a burning bush. At its heart is the challenge to rely on God moment by moment.

The church is continually learning about God from all that goes on in the world. This crisis is no different, and the ‘re-set’ that the pandemic has forced upon us presents opportunities for change that are very rare. I want to do all I can to ensure that the churches in our villages take the opportunity to discover afresh their vocation to love God, and in so doing help us all to love one another. 

Please see the calendar for details of Sunday services that are restarting gradually. I hope to meet you at one of them very soon.

Donald


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Page last updated: 24th July 2020 11:32 AM