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.