Rev Merv Dye
Before I launch into my musings, I need to take you forward to this coming Sunday, Pentecost, when at 7p.m. there will be an on-line celebration – “Empowered – Lord Bless Ipswich”.
Details at this link: https://networksuffolk.org.uk/2020/05/empowered-lord-bless-ipswich-sunday-31st-may/
Whilst it appears that the end of lockdown is near, there is still a lot to be sorted as regards to what it will be replaced with. One certainty seems to be that life will not look like it did before the pandemic spread around the world. For those of us who have been able to get out we know that shopping has taken on a new norm already. Queuing to be allowed in has been adopted from supermarket to small trader, and the concept of popping out quickly for something from, say, Asda, is no longer a given. You really do need to have a decent sized shopping list to make the queuing worthwhile. I have to wonder how town centre shopping will need to look when stores reopen but with social distancing still being needed.
Similar challenges will arise when church buildings are allowed to open. We have to recognise that one thing lockdown has shown is that church really is about people and we’ve managed to keep in touch with one another and with video-conferencing have been able to see one another. Let’s not forget those who don’t have the necessary technology to benefit from that. We know there are ways that more people could be brought into the technology fold, but those who have the skills haven’t been able to visit to assist. Church buildings are gathering places and therein lies the challenge – gathering as groups will still be risky. Time will tell but the new normal will look very different to what has gone before and what we’re going through now, but is an opportunity to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to give a new impetus to our faith.
It seems very fitting, therefore, that we start to come out of lockdown at the time of Pentecost. Our Easter celebrations were curtailed, and we felt more of the suffering of Good Friday with the changes imposed on life. With Pentecost we’re reminded that the Holy Spirit is the unseen helper and guide. What better time to be reminded of its power and acknowledging its presence as we begin rebuilding our lives and how we act as a society. There has always been a message for people to go out from church buildings in to society to spread the good news and not keep our faith locked up inside the building. We’re already out in society so have a great opportunity to show God’s love is available to all and that we’re not a closed shop group in a holy huddle inside a church building. Let’s adopt the same enthusiasm as those apostles in the book of Acts and step out in faith.
Lord God, we thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit and the example of those who have gone before in its power. May we also be inspired to step out in faith and share the life changing news of your love for the world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Rev Merv on behalf of SWITM Leadership Team