Over recent days there has been lots of talk about “live streaming” as churches and others have started conducting meetings and broadcasting live content over the internet.
A thought-provoking typo recently wrote about “love streaming” instead. That made me think that if what we, as Christians, are doing on the internet is not expressing love then, to quote the apostle Paul, we are nothing and we gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13 v.2-3).
The technical hardware and software, which help us to keep connected and communicating while staying within our homes, are nothing if they are not used as channels for expressing love.
One helpful idea I heard about today was of a family who agreed a time for a meal together with their isolated neighbour. They obviously could not gather around the same table, but propped an iPad at one end and the neighbour ate her food and joined in the conversation with the family through that online connection.
A simple and effective way of being neighbourly. An invitation to share in a virtual meal together!
A minister friend of mine in another part of the country wrote this in a Facebook group to which I belong. I am deeply touched reading about Tom – an old man willing to serve in new ways:
Last week I wrote about our oldest member Tom who is just short of his 101st birthday. When I told him that the church couldn’t meet for the time being, he said, “Is there anything I can do because I will have extra time on my hands.” I gave him the task of writing short thoughts which I would type up and share in various ways. Here is the first of Tom’s short meditations:
“The intensity of the Corona-virus, rapidly spreading across the world, is a new experience for us. It affects each of us, so now we are in “Lockdown,” and even families cannot socialise with each other.
“Crises like this, bring out the worst or best in people. Stores and suppliers are under pressure. Panic buying creates more stress. On Saturday my daughter obtained some food items for me and watched the ugly side of panic buying; customers were fighting and screaming at each other. She managed to get me the last loaf of bread. Shopping like that causes fear and distress.
“On Saturday, thankfully, I saw the better side. Later in the evening, I saw on my doormat what I thought was junk mail. I picked it up and it was a note from two strangers, who were going to be my near neighbours in a few weeks. They knew I may find it difficult to get groceries, so they gave me their telephone number with the offer of help if I needed it.
“Epidemics seem out of place to us, but similar accounts are found in the Gospels.
“Sadly lepers were ostracised, denied socialising or any contact with their families. “PANIC BUYING,” was carried out by locusts, by stripping bare farmers’ crops, thus threatening their livelihood.
“God was with His people in such dire conditions, and still is with us, if He can count on us to be agents of His Grace and loving care.”
… and a second meditation from Tom has just arrived.
SEEING IS BELIEVING
A causal thought may convince you that this is true e.g. if you possess an item you don’t need faith because it is right in front of you.
In our present circumstances this saying is promptly challenged. We take for granted things we cannot see and here are some:
We get up each day carry out our daily routines without a thought. Did you see the air you breathe? Can it be true if you did not see it?
You are walking in the face of a full force gale, the wind so strong you could lean on it. You can’t see the wind so is that an expensive fantasy?
Where would we be without electricity? Can you see it? No, you can’t! BUT you can see and feel the impact of it
Consider the virus which affects each one of us. This invisible killer can decimate thousands in a few days. You could be the next victim.Would that change your mind?
Could it be that because you cannot see God He is not real? So you do not believe. True you cannot see God, but we have His Spirit through Jesus and He cannot be seen – yet is very potent. You ignore God and the virus at your peril. Don’t ignore Him and reject His wonderful relationship, which you can share.
Well done to one of the church home groups! Amid all the difficulties, it was a real encouragement to hear how one home group has chosen to face this challenge together and with God.
They are making sure that they stay connected, even though they cannot meet, and that they are being supportive of one another. I also hear that they have decided to read the same daily devotional as one another during this period of separation so that they can feel spiritually connected and can talk together through social media about what they have been reading.
Well done! You have brought a smile to my face.
This is what church looks like in these difficult days!
Outside the window of the church office this morning I see people setting up for the next stage of activity for Cambourne’s Volunteer Task Force (VTF) being coordinated through Cambourne Crescent. A leaflet delivery to every home.
Have you yet registered as a volunteer? Food deliveries, telephone calls to those who are isolated, administration … different skills and tasks.
The way of registering your interest and availability is by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
On the window sill by my desk in the church office sits a hazelnut. I was given it last month when visiting the church of St Julian in Norwich.
In that church, centuries ago, lived an anchoress – a kind of female Christian hermit – whom we do not know by name, but rather by the name of the church where she lived and prayed – Julian of Norwich.
She had visions from God and wrote them down – the earliest writings by a woman in the English language of which we are aware. She wrote:
“And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marvelled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.
“In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.”
And another, and perhaps even more famous, quotation seems apt for our times:
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
17th March 2020 – everything changed as we made the radical decision, alongside churches up and down the country, to suspend all church gatherings because of the government advice on how we respond to the current Coronavirus pandemic.
The origin of the word “Church” is a Greek word meaning a gathered group. Gathering is a central part of our identity, and we have suspended it! Of course, Jesus Christ is an even more central source of our identity, and he is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
But this decision was made on Saint Patrick’s Day – and that points to something hopeful. Patrick was a missionary to Ireland. He planted Christian communities across Ireland, which sought to serve the pagan peoples among whom they lived. And Patrick was much more willing to adapt to the culture of those among whom he ministered than others of his time. For example, he encouraged and developed prayers in the Celtic language of the Irish rather than merely in the Latin used by the established Church.
Maybe, in this disruption to the established patterns of church life, we might find new ways of serving and communicating the good news of Jesus with those among whom we live.