It is hard to find the words to describe the last few days… emotional… tiring… stressful…. overwhelming… anxious… uncertain… it has felt like grappling through the dark as I, with others, consult, discuss, plan and make decisions which impact on the lives of our churches and communities.
It was a really painful to come to the decision yesterday morning that we needed to suspend all church activity. It’s a conversation I never in a million years expected I would be part of. Formational training never covered ministry during global pandemic crisis. Speaking with colleagues from various churches and denominations over the last 24 hours, all local church leaders are feeling the sense of unknown as we journey together in these unchartered waters.
Over the last couple days one verse of scripture in particular has been in my mind, it is what I have been clinging to, and is bringing me a sense of hope and assurance.
“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”John 1:5
These are uncertain times. Anxious times. Dark times. But the truth of our faith, as Kingdom people, is that we trust, know and experience for ourselves Jesus Christ, our friend and Saviour and light to the world. And no darkness can ever overcome that light.
I hope and pray each one of you will be able know yourselves held and loved by God in the days and weeks to come. I pray you know the light and hope that Jesus promises us. I pray you know the presence of God’s Spirit wherever you are.
For Bognor Regis, Felpham and Westergate Methodist Churches, I’m really grateful to those who as I speak are sorting people into groups who will work to keep in touch in the coming days. We’re also looking at what worship resources we can send to people.
Because the reality, of course, is that church is not over. Worship is not over. Relatioship is not over. We just have to do it differently, and in doing it differently, we refuse to allow darkness to overcome.
I’m also in conversation with other local church leaders about how we can support one another and work together to support and care for the most vulnerable and isolated in our communities.
If you need support reach out to friends, family, neighbours, or if you don’t know where to go, please get in touch.
Finally, In the Spirit of unity, I want to commend the Salvation Army’s #handstogether call to prayer.
At 12 noon each day, as the hands of the clock come together, let us all pray for the world, the anxious, the medics, scientists and community leaders who are doing their utmost to save lives and support the weak. And each other as we too respond to those in need.
As we continue to journey through these unchartered waters together, may you each know the hope and love of Christ .
In the midst of uncertainty and anxiety,
let us work together,
trust in the strength of God,
and know God’s love and care for us.
Let us not be dominated by panic and fear,
but with hope and trust in our God who is with us,
and love and compassion for one another.