From our Minister

From our Minister

Well, since my last contribution to the newsletter Kathryn and I have had two weeks’ holiday visiting family and friends in the north. On one very hot day (35℃) we watched the evening news to see images of torrential rain in the South East. The most special time was being with our new grandchild being able to hold and cuddle him. Wonderful!

As we approach the Autumn it is clear that many people are uneasy about what may happen regarding COVID 19. Some who I have spoken to only by phone who seemed relaxed through lock down I discovered were really quite anxious. They have been doing that curiously British habit of never really saying how they are for fear of worrying us. The lack of social contact, constant messages warning of the need to quarantine and avoid unnecessary contact with others have over the weeks weakened people’s confidence. Kathryn and I began to wonder if some family members would be willing to meet with us because of their concerns about infection. I’m pleased to say we did get to spend time with them.

There is a growing unwillingness to go out and do the things we once did without a second thought. I was talking to one person who had arranged to meet friends in London but whilst actually waiting to get the rail ticket decided against it and went home. They admitted to feelings of alarm as they stood in the empty ticket office.

Will we ever be able to get back to the relaxed living we were used to?

I think, as with the phone calls mentioned earlier, we are all in the habit of hiding our true feelings and giving an air of well-being. When as Christians we should be prepared to speak the truth and not lie. We are all frail. As we get older we become more conscious of our frailty and vulnerability. As one person tells me every time I meet her: “Growing old isn’t much fun, don’t do it John.” I don’t think she quite gets my response: “I’m not sure the alternative is either.”

I’m not sure we will get back to the pre COVID days but society at large will. We see now the younger generation out and about mixing, enjoying the beach, partying, ignoring the warnings because when they are infected it seems relatively benign. As society moves forward and the virus becomes less serious because of vaccine, or developed immunity or something the younger generation may forget 2020.

My reason for writing this.

When we avoid speaking about how the lock down, the quarantining, the news, having to wear face masks affects us we deprive others of knowing what they are feeling and experiencing is normal. It might not be normal prior to COVID 19 but it is the new normal. Feelings of anxiety, alarm when in company, tension, not wanting to go out are all to be expected.

Let me touch on a sensitive subject for Christians. Many of us through this period have found our prayer lives, bible study, sense of a relationship with God go dry and become difficult. We feel guilt and perhaps even shame when talking to other Christians and they seem to be striding forward in their Christian life whilst we feel like a spiritual car crash. The lack of social contact, fellowship, worship, house groups, coffee mornings all impact us. Zoom has it benefits but it can’t replace the pleasure of meeting with and sharing with friends. Laughing together, crying together, handshakes, hugging, singing together, arguing with each other all these feed an innate need to be with people.

Hebrews 10:25a “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,”

Our neglect of meeting together is out of our control, but God willing may we soon be able to meet and share together. We aren’t able to meet socially but when we are in touch with one another we can encourage and strengthen one another and an important part of that is letting the ‘mask slip’ (pun intended) and be vulnerable.

John