The Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and for evermore. Psalm 121:8
I wanted to write to you all again at this transitional time when we are finding the courage to
begin picking up some of the strands of our church life once more.
Over the past three or four weeks throughout the churches of the Circuit, we have been gathering
some thoughts about where we think we are, and what our hopes and visions might be for the
future. We have been asked to do that because of changes that are afoot in the Circuit. The
changes are because Rev Chris’ appointment is coming to an end in August 2022, and we need to
draw up a ‘Circuit profile’ to invite a new minister to come and share in our Circuit life. We have
had to briefly describe our churches – tell our Church Story if you like – in very limited words, to
give the person exploring a new appointment a sense of who we are.
The responses we have had from the churches reflect a sense of loss of some of our past strengths
and a deep uncertainty about the future. I think this is understandable - we shouldn’t
underestimate the effect that the last 18 months has had on our sense of who and whose we are.
Of course, doing this kind of thinking just now means that we do it in a sort of vacuum, and we
have to work hard to remember what the church was like before March last year, and the many
good things that were happening then - some of which will happen again. How we tell our
Church’s Story to ourselves and to others affects the way we approach the future.
After the exile in Babylon, Cyrus the Great allowed the Judahites to return home to rebuild
Jerusalem. At last in 520BC, sparked by the prophet Haggai, the foundation stones for the new
Temple were laid. But the people’s responses were mixed:
'When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments were
stationed to praise the Lord with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals,
according to the directions of King David of Israel: and they sang responsively, praising and giving
thanks to the Lord, ‘For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever towards Israel.’ And all the
people responded with a great shout when they praised the Lord because the foundation of the house
of the Lord was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and heads of families who had seen
the first house on its foundations, wept with a loud voice when they saw this house, though many
shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the
sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted so loudly that the sound was heard far away'
For the returning Israelites, the work of rebuilding was no easy task. Emotions were raw, and
rejoicing was mixed with grief.
Soon it will be September, and the new church year will usher in its new beginning, but this year it
will be especially 'new'. I think much of society has stopped talking about 'getting back to
normal', because we realise that there was much that was wrong about 'normal', and in any case,
we are not the same people any more.
But we will slowly rebuild and recover, maybe even re-imagine the church, using the new skills we
have gained as we adapted to life under lockdown. As the African American poet Sonya Renee
Taylor said 'We have the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and
And as Christians we know we do not do this alone. We need to be attentive to the leading of
God's Spirit as she blows through the church, breathing new life into us again.
At the last Church Council, I asked the Trustees to consider four questions in preparation for our
General Church Meeting. We thought that two opportunities for meeting might be helpful to
include as many of the church congregation as possible; so we have identified Saturday 2nd
October, probably a morning meeting with refreshments, and Sunday 3rd October after the
worship service. Please mark the dates, and consider yourself invited! Here are the questions I
asked the Church Council, and I would love to hear your answers too – email me, or drop me a
phone call, and share your thoughts.
Think back to ‘BEFORE COVID’ ... What were the two or
three BEST THINGS we were doing?
Think about ‘NOW’... Where are the GREEN SHOOTS
that God is showing us for this new season?
Think about ‘THE FUTURE ... What would you LOVE to
see this church DO or to BE?
Think about YOU ... What do you think your GIFTS are – for
NOW? What do you/could you offer in the church?
With reference to the last question...I am not asking busy people to do even more. What I am
suggesting is that what we are able to offer in terms of gifts and time varies, depending both on
our own health and circumstances, and the need that we see. We may have to stop doing some
things and call on other gifts that are right for this time. If you haven’t been able to contribute
before – what about now? So, my question is about the needs now, and what gifts you may be
able to offer now in response to those needs.
What do you think? How do you tell Our Church’s Story?
Please continue to pray for wisdom and insight from our leaders, whether local or national, and I
do believe that if we are faithful in getting on with the Kingdom work, God will shape his Church.
Rev Deborah 26th August 2021