The deeper impact of the pandemic

We have heard much about the ‘victims’ of Covid-19. Every day we have been reminded of the mounting death toll. And rightly so. But only now we are beginning to appreciate the wider and deeper impact of the pandemic. Just as each day we are told how many people have died during the previous 24 hours, not a day passes without us hearing of yet many more job losses;

Where there is no focus, the people cast off restraint

There is a verse in the Book of Proverbs which reads, ‘where there is no focus, the people cast off restraint’ (Prov. 27, 18). It is strange how Bible verses have that uncanny ability to speak directly into a particular situation far removed from when they were first written down. During recent weeks we have seen so many people responding with reckless abandon to the easing of Lockdown; losing focus, casting off restraint.

Continue to stay safe

…Closer to home, it is good that we have been opened the Free Church for private prayer on Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10am – 12noon, and Sundays, 2.30pm – 4.30pm. To have people enter the building and make use of it has been a great encouragement. Today, 23rd June, Govt has indicated that from 4th July it may be possible to hold worship services – no more than 30 people, restricted in content and delivery – we do not want to rush into anything without making the proper assessments of risk etc but I am hopeful that it will not be too long before we are able to worship together once again. Please, be patient for just a little longer…

Come for a private prayer

But, one change that has been implemented in the decision to allow church buildings in England to open for personal, private prayer. I am grateful to the Trustees and to the Church Officers for their input in deciding how best to respond to this initiative. It has been decided that the Free Church will be open for this purpose as follows, starting this coming Sunday, June 21nd…

Black Lives Matter

We continue to live in strange times. For the first time in many months the Covid-19 pandemic is not the lead story. Following on from the death of George Floyd, the subsequent protests against racism – ‘Black Lives Matter’ – have filled the headlines. In particular the question of statues erected in memory of certain individuals, usually in recognition of the contribution they might have made to the life of a community or even of the nation itself, but who during their lifetime were responsible for attitudes and activities that today we would find reprehensible

I can’t breathe

George Floyd is now known to all of us. His last words, ‘I can’t breathe’ have been burned into our psyche. Another victim of seemingly racially motivated police brutality in the US. If nothing else, this shocking episode serves to make us realise we cannot ignore for a moment the injustices that continue to perpetrated throughout our world. It is all too easy, at times like this, to turn in on ourselves, shutting our eyes, our ears, our minds and our hearts to what is happening in places like Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Hong Kong, Afghanistan, the Palestinian Territories, other places too.

Pentecost

This weekend is Pentecost. What many refer to as the ‘birthday’ of the Church. It reminds me that for many of us, celebrating birthdays has been very difficult this year; whether it be our own birthday or that of someone close to us. And not just birthdays. Other notable occasions have had to be ‘put on hold as it were’. But of course, we only have one ‘birthday’. And so it was with the church. God, through the Holy Spirit breathing life into the world, bringing the Church into being, enlivening the world, transforming the world, putting God’s indelible mark on its unfolding history. It is this we are called to do. As a congregation of God’s people, as individual Christians, we are called to leave an indelible mark on our particular generation as others have done who have gone before us. At the present time it is difficult to imagine just how this might be done, and yet when I look around me, I see a thousand acts of kindness being shared between total strangers. Covid-19 will leave its own indelible ‘stain’ upon our history, but what is being done because of it, even in spite of it, that will leave its own indelible mark. I am grateful to all of you for the part you are playing in such acts of kindness. Thank you…

Ascension Day

Tomorrow, Thursday, is Ascension Day. After witnessing Jesus being taken from them in a cloud, the disciples returned to Jerusalem to wait; to wait for what Jesus had promised them, power from on high. They were forced to stay behind locked doors. They were afraid of what would happen to them. No indication as to how long the wait would be. For them, it was to be a mere 10 days. For us it seems like for ever. I sense there is a rising tide of impatience regarding the lifting of lockdown. It is as if the fairly minimal relaxation that we are presently experiencing is acting as an incentive to go further, faster. Nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to the re-opening of places of worship. I know that numbers of you are eagerly looking forward to the Free Church being open soon. I, and the Elders appreciate this, but at the same time we have to be both careful, and cautious. So, please continue to be patient. When we are ready, and when we are satisfied that we can function with minimal risk to anyone who attends, then will be the right time, but not until then…

We need to be realistic

It is anticipated that this coming weekend the Govt will make an announcement concerning a ‘route map out of lockdown.’ We should not expect anything to happen immediately; certainly not before the end of May. Of course, all of us are looking forward to what might happen, but as the saying goes, ‘we should be careful What we wish for.’ It would be a great shame if the progress made during the lockdown period is jeopardised by an over exuberant response to even the most modest lifting of restrictions…