25 Jun Vicars’ Blog – July 2020 – Trust in the Lord
Posted at 18:49h in Vicars' Blog
Trust in the Lord…
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
As we ask the question ‘What next?’ in every sphere of our lives, the wisdom behind this little proverb has seldom been more what is needed. What we all need right now is the Lord’s wisdom and guidance. He has been present with us through the entire Covid-19 pandemic and is giving us fresh direction as lockdown begins to relax.
While people are talking about getting back to “normal”, it is increasingly clear that we won’t and cannot go back to things as they were. For a start, the risks of Covid-19 have not just disappeared like an invading army that has turned tail and fled. It will take a long while for all of us to feel “safe”. Secondly, we have been changed by the events of the pandemic. We have come closer to death and suffering than before and come to appreciate the people who provide our everyday services we may have previously taken for granted. It was lovely to hear of a little girl who made a card to thank the dustbin men. We have found that we don’t need to travel so much, we have discovered things that are precious to us and our eyes have been opened to new treasures in the world around our homes.
So, what next? Here are four questions we may find helpful: 1 What are we going to hold onto from this time? – healthy and life-giving patterns of life? Caring for our neighbours? 2 What are we very keen to do again? – seeing friends, hugging family members, worshipping in church? 3 What are we not going to go back to? 4 What will we be glad to say goodbye to from this time?
The church opening soon for private prayer
On Tuesday 23rd June, the government announced that a large range of businesses can now open including pubs and restaurants where people gather. They also said that churches may open not only for private prayer, but also for church services from 4th July. We are grateful to our church wardens and their working group who have set about making plans for us to open St Mary’s church for private prayer at limited times from early July. Our major concerns are the health and safety of all church members and people from the community who choose to take advantage of this. We are currently awaiting guidance form the Church of England regarding conditions for opening for services.
Support one another, stay alert and be wise.
Thank you to all who have expressed gratitude for the worship online through recordings and Zoom midweek and on Sundays. We would like to thank all the ministry team and Sally who has provided tireless communications support for this. These have been a source of discipleship, fellowship, and joy for many people for the last three months. As we consider meeting again in person to worship, albeit without singing, we are mindful that we will not all be ready to come together for services and that will be a decision each person takes in their own timing. We will continue to support our more vulnerable folk and do not want anyone to feel left out.
We are considering a mixed economy of online and physical services as we go forward. There may be changes to published services over the summer and we will be working towards a definite plan for the autumn. We will let you know by weekly email and on the website what the up to date plans are as they unfold. Meanwhile, do meet to support and encourage one another – safely! We do not need a church service to do that! We were encouraged to hear of a life group who have met regularly outside to chat and pray.
It is sad news that the Walton & Hersham Food Bank have been so busy during this time and they expect this to continue for several months supporting the most vulnerable families. However, it is good news that they have increased their capacity to serve these needs and we are delighted to partner with them and to be able to continue to provide a location at St John’s for ongoing food collection and distribution with the use of the whole building and a shed.
Owning the money issue
The church is facing huge financial challenges because of loss of premises hire income during lockdown. But it cannot be denied that our income through giving has not met our outgoings (mainly staff, allotted contribution to the Diocese and 10% giving to missions) for some time. It is twelve years since the church decided to employ the church Army evangelists and a Children and Youth minister using reserves in faith that the giving of church members would increase to cover ongoing costs in time. The reserves are now gone, and the regular giving never did match the regular outgoings. Please pray for our church. We need everybody to own this crisis in giving and we will need to make tough decisions very soon.
Trust in the Lord
What a blessing it has been to do the Bible Course and obtain an overview of the big story of the Bible. We have seen how Jesus Christ is the culmination and fulfilment of the whole story of God and his people. In the last book, Revelation, we get a glimpse of how the story ends: the world is put right, Jesus is on the throne and all his followers are on the winning side. This eternal reality has sustained Christians through many dark times, and it gives us reason for hope today. We are trusting in God’s faithfulness. The proverb “Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding” is so relevant as we look ahead to what seem to be shifting and challenging times. In this season of opportunity and innovation, we will be guided by God through the next phase of being his church in Walton on Thames. We were struck by this quote from Ed Catmull: “There is sweet spot between the known and the unknown where originality happens; the key is to linger there without panicking.”