This is the third part of my series of blogs of what I believe God is saying to me during this time of coronavirus. I hope these blogs will spark some discussion in the fellowship to which I belong. If they spark wider discussion, Great!
This is one of the hardest blogs in this series that I have had to write. I had to face one of my “demons”. What made this hard was, it was something I had never fully appreciated about myself before. Resistance to change.
Here is how it happened.
It was on the evening when the Prime Minister announced the lock down. As the press conference was taking place, my phone was ringing and text messages were coming through from church people asking “what are you going to do?”
In truth, I didn’t know.
As I listened, my immediate reaction was “oh good, at least he didn’t say Churches had to close, I can still do my Sunday service!” As further details emerged, it became clearer that I was entering uncharted territory.
Hospital and chaplaincy involvement cancelled.
Conferences and training events, cancelled.
Funerals completely different.
How was I going to be a minister if, I had no congregation and no Church? I struggled to understand my personal significance in a world that had changed beyond all recognition.
Our usually busy Church building, fell into silence. All activities ceased and we were closed.
As I wrestled with all of my emotions and the issues I was now facing, I felt God was saying to me;
You cannot keep doing, what you have always done.
In my head, I knew the truth of those words. I would have said, and have taught, that I believe that the Church needs to accept change. A church that doesn’t change, is a church that dies. The change we were now facing, however, was not one that I had time to prepare for, or opt into. This is change is one that was forced upon me. There is a line in the Book of Psalms that keeps floating around my mind;
How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?
(Psalm 137 vs. 4 – KJV)
This has been a question that I have been constantly asking of myself.
My default position was to do what I knew. In the early days of lock down, I concentrated on learning to use Zoom so that we could “do Church” as normally as possible. I looked at ways to keep the Church community together, now we were forced apart.
As time has progressed, however, I have found myself wondering what will life be like when we get back together?
In the silence of the building, I have wondered what activities will I be overjoyed to see restored but equally, which ones will I find myself saying “oh dear”?
I have wondered how to refocus the missional engagement of our fellowship. Do we need to drop some of our project work in order to focus more of our resource on others?
A more challenging question is, what have we learnt in lock down that we need to keep on with?
I don’t pretend to know the answers to these questions but, what I do know is
We cannot keep doing, what we have always done.