Keys, phone, purse, tissues, gloves, glasses. What is on your list of things to check you have with you before you go out? Keys, phone, wallet… mask, sanitizer. The list is now a little longer than it was before.
Nothing feels carefree anymore. And I’m longing for the unknowingly careless way we, not so long ago, decided what to do and expected what would happen. And now our expectations and assumptions about what we can do, where we can go and who we can meet have been completely upended.
Do you recognise this feeling? Recently, I have found the pattern of the ancient prayer-poem of Psalm 77 a helpful meditation, though a little scary.
This week’s ‘thought for the week’ is in fact a prayer, written by Revd Dr Richard Bott, moderator of the United Church of Canada and shared by the World Council of Churches (here slightly adapted).
Creator, as I prepare to go into the world, help me to see the sacrament in the wearing of this cloth -let it be “an outward sign of an inward grace” -a tangible and visible way of living love for my neighbours, as I love myself.
Apparently, the way that the Norwegians manage to enjoy a dark and cold Scandinavian winter is all to do with how they approach it mentally. Rather than thinking ‘winter is a limiting time of year’ they tend to think ‘I love the cosiness of winter’; rather than ‘there are many things to dislike about winter’ they think ‘winter brings many wonderful season changes’. (The Guardian, 26 September)
We are not there yet, but over the last few days our weather has given us notice that winter is coming. At the same time, we face continued, and even more stringent, Covid restrictions. In the church communities, and perhaps in our families, we are starting to plan Christmas. And we seem to be falling into two camps: there are those who are despairing at not being able to celebrate Advent and Christmas much at all, and then there are those who are frantically working out what they can get away with in order to celebrate in as close a way as possible to last year.
But perhaps we should avoid both of these by thinking more like Norwegians. Rather than trying to do what we always do but in diminished and grumpy ways, how can we find something fresh and creative to mark the season with our church and village networks? Rather than acting as though not much is different, how can we capture the essence of Advent and Christmas in ways which take advantage of, or work despite, the guidelines which keep the vulnerable safe and well?
I believe that the work of God’s Spirit is deeply creative; that, whatever the constraints, where people are open to the prompts and gifts of God’s Spirit the shape and work of church communities can adapt and grow… and bless. As we begin to plan the autumn and winter and Christmas, may we be inspired by God’s Spirit, and may we bless and be blessed in the name of Christ, the light in the darkness.
This year, many of us are preparing for, or celebrating, Harvest thanksgiving with a new appreciation of the importance of UK farmers in our nation’s food security after the concerns of early lockdown. Alongside this, many of us are taking part in ‘creation-tide’ services this September – a season in which we are asked to consider a Christian role in caring for the environment that sustains us all – including our collective need of divine forgiveness for human abuse of the natural world. And did you catch the BBC’s Extinction with David Attenborough arguing that human damage to biodiversity is a direct contributor to pandemics like Covid-19?
It’s September again, and we find ourselves this year negotiating a winding path between two imperatives. On the one hand, schools, universities, workplaces and restaurants are encouraged to return to some kind of new normal while, on the other hand, we are now being warned to take increasing care about the number of people with whom we mix outside of a few prescribed activities in order to stabilise the rate of Covid infections.
The new Lordsbridge Life is out, chronicling the experiences of some of our church communities and church members over the last few months, across the villages to the west of Cambridge. You can download a copy here: Lordsbridge Life August 2020
Lordsbridge Life includes a link to a video showcasing some of the wonderful creativity and hard work of Lordsbridge Online and Worship at Home, as we shared resources to support each other in our collective response to lockdown. Here is the video separately. Enjoy!
With big thanks to Robbie Thomson our Resource Hub Manager (funded by Ely Diocese Growth Fund) for making much of this possible and helping us learn new skills.
I wonder who else is feeling worn down by relentless questions. Is it safe or not? Is it legal or not? Should we do it or not? What will happen next? What should we plan for September, or October? Sometimes I feel hopeful, sometimes disappointed. Sometimes thankful, sometimes frustrated. Sometimes I feel clear sighted, sometimes deeply uncertain. Sometimes I can meet these challenges with creative energy, sometimes only with weariness. And I have come to realise lately that it is entirely possible to feel several of these more or less at once! Continue reading →
This week’s thought-for-the-week for the Lordsbridge Churches and friends has been written by Revd Paul Garnell, curate and member of the Lordsbridge Churches core clergy team.
In promising news, the Oxford coronavirus vaccine under rushed development has been found to trigger immune responses in human subjects. It is amazing how the antibodies and T-cells are conditioned by the vaccine to defend the body should they be presented with COVID 19. Continue reading →
Many church communities are putting their respective toes in the water with regard to small, simple services in church buildings again. It is good to be able to meet in person to pray in these special places, even if in constrained circumstances. But not all of us can do so yet. We are not back to normal, nor will we be, for some time. If phase one was ‘lockdown to halt rampant spread of the virus’, this is phase two – ‘living alongside the virus’, and phase three – ‘treatment and vaccines mean the virus is no longer a danger’ – is still some way ahead. Continue reading →