Over the next few weeks, I am going to share some of my thoughts with you about the pandemic and its impact regarding a variety of topics. I hope that it will stimulate thinking and discussion – some of what I write may resonate with you and some of it may seem quite new. However, it should be stated at the beginning that the pandemic and its impact on lives and livelihoods has been horrific – I struggle with the big questions about why this has happened and am not sure of the value of trying to reach for a quick answer, but rather I will look at the impact on various areas of our life together and explore my thinking.
Some of the areas I’ll look to cover are:
I wonder how you feel about change – it may seem that everywhere you look there is change happening and in the last year this seems to have accelerated. There have been imposed changes we have all had to get used to – face masks, sanitising our hands, social distancing, new technology, worshiping together whilst looking at a screen. These changes are challenging because we have had so little choice.
Often when we go through a period of change, we spend time preparing ourselves, assessing options and exploring alternatives. For change to feel less uncomfortable we like to feel we have some control over the process. The pandemic has brought about changes that have been imposed and have been responsive to ever changing situations we find ourselves faced with. We had to change how we functioned as church – not because we chose to but because the way we did things before was no longer an option – necessity at times proved to be the mother of invention but what else can we learn from this about change and how we engage with it.
One of the verses of the Bible that has resonated with me this year is from Psalm 137:4 – “How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land” The psalmist is crying out to God in lament over the impact of exile to Babylon. They had been so used to one way of doing things and in exile had to discover something new. Change had been imposed.
What does it look like to continue to be God’s ambassadors here in Felixstowe at this time when everything seems so different? And as things slowly edge towards opening up what have we to learn about this time of change?
Simon Barrington shared that after times of crisis about 80% of things return to as they were, whereas about 20% change for good.
If this is the case then part of what we are called to do as God’s people is to attempt to discern what needs to change and what can return. If we simply attempt to simply reconstruct what was before firstly that is impossible. And secondly, we would be missing a chance to amend what we do so that we can more effectively fulfil what God has called us to do. But this is not always easy – so often we all like change as long as it doesn’t impact on what we do. I guess that’s true for us all.
As followers of Jesus we are called to be a pilgrim people – people who are following God’s prompting at all times, seeking to go where he leads us and love where He calls us. In our recent Thy Kingdom Come prayer stations I was especially taken by the display focusing around Jesus being the Way. I was struck by this because I often see Jesus as a destination to arrive at rather than one to follow. Being the Way means that we are continually called to seek to follow Him where He may lead us – and that will mean change – hopefully not like the imposed change of the last year – but change none the less.
Are we prepared and open to change?