I am taking time to look back on the last year and reflect on the enormous upheavals we have all lived through.
I guess the easiest way to approach is to think about things I have learned and discovered.
Firstly, I think I have learned to spell tear or tier or teir or teer. Well sometimes anyway!
I wonder if many of us have learned how to use video conferencing on our computers – I had never heard of zoom before this year, but it has fast become an important part of my life and has become a verb describing meeting up online. It has enabled many of us to keep connected and many of us have enjoyed chats with people from all over the world.
I have also learnt an awful lot more than I thought I would ever need to know about sound and video recording. Thanks to some excellent input and training I am now more aware of inputs, outputs and bandwidths. I am not sure whether I had heard of livestreaming before this year, but it is now a very large part of my life.
It has been so hard to minister to and to grieve ourselves this year – the way we have journeyed alongside people as they approach death and attempted to minister to the grieving has been like no other year. I have felt the privilege of this ministry more so than ever, but also felt that something has been lost. Funerals with masks and social distancing are different and not what we would plan. Talking with the grieving over zoom and not being able to hold a hand or put an arm around those who are upset will be things I will not miss when this pandemic passes.
I have had the joy of conducting some weddings this year. Again, with masks and hand sanitiser evident for all to see. Less guests – it must have been a challenge for the couple to decide who gets to come. I’ve also had to talk to couples who have postponed and rearranged their weddings not once but twice and as we look forward we are still not sure what these will look like.
I have also spent far less time in the church building and when I have we have had to keep apart and encourage people to leave without talking. I have found the challenge of worship whilst discouraging fellowship, as it used to look, really hard. Following Jesus is something we do together, and hospitality and welcome are at the heart of how we express our faith. Trying to work out what this looks like has been hard – though I know many of you have shown love and hospitality throughout the year often by simply picking up the telephone or popping a card through a door.
I wonder whether this has been a time when we have been able to reassess what it means to be church in Old Felixstowe? So much of our effort is often put into how we do church – what it looks like when we get to the building, what liturgy we use, the music that helps our worship. This is a time to step back and ask ourselves other questions about our purpose and how we manifest that.
Over the next five weeks on Sunday we are going to explore this in our sermons. A small group and the PCC have produced a statement setting out what our purpose is which will help us decide direction going forward.
Please do pray for the leadership of the church at this time as we continue to seek to work out how God is calling us to live, show and tell His love at this time