Beloved in Christ
Betty took this picture and her metaphor is of the church… ‘passed this tree on my walk today and thought it might illustrate the church after lockdown – new growth, but in a different way, on a firm foundation’. It’s worth a meditational reflection isn’t it. What about sitting quietly, gazing into the picture on your screen?
Tomorrow’s collect asks of us
Jesus prayed that we might be one;
Help us transcend our differences
And find our unity in Jesus Christ our Lord;
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
One God now and forever.
I have been blathering to God about how easily we slide into difference rather than togetherness: always forming an opinion, or even judgement, long before all the facts are known. And how easily we exclude ourselves and another from the grace-filled acceptance of difference or individuality. In looking at my neighbourhood and scanning Dundee from so many angles whilst walking. I realise that each home, each family, each person is created uniquely, according to God’s plan! Our Zoom and telephone chats reveal the same. That is the space in which grace can and does co-operate. I ask us each to pray that we hold off judgement and see situations and another as Jesus would, and in that relationship we nourish, support and allow others to become themselves, as Jesus did. Richard Rohr and many others describe this immediate assessment separates us from God, calling it ‘dualistic’ thinking. As Jesus shows us, we can catch ourselves in the act and simply leave judgement out of our meeting spaces. Indeed, in our relationship with God too – we are one, inseparable from God, made to receive that flow of nurture, and not separate ourselves away from that.
Flowing from this thought, I’m considering the pressing question of what things (and in church) will look like, as we ease out of lockdown. It demands new thinking and movement. We are holding a clergy and lay reader meeting to discuss just that, this Friday. Our vestry secretaries have outlined our activities, in community, and in serving others in need, and therefore, ‘different’. I’m so proud that we have established such ties ecumenically, and in helping those in need. It will remain foundational to our outreach and community ministry, even to growing the church.
I hope that God graces us by allowing us to deepen and strengthen what we already have in place, and celebrate the interesting creative ideas coming out of last week’s challenge of new ideas and input flowing from the questions posed in the previous email. The Zoom meeting was held without me, as I was entrapped in getting home from Perth and that business I had to attend to. Delightfully, many marvellous ideas were forthcoming and a good time was had by all. Here are the questions again, so that you can give us your input, via email, or even a call if you like:
☆New services and times… midweek? What service? Shared or alternating between the 2 churches? Different venue?
☆ A retreat – a day/weekend.. where?
* Social activities… a walk, a picnic, a tea in a garden, a venue (a garden centre?) Tentsmuir….
☆ different groups… either by extending or a new target group… how to contact them…. where are they? Whether you’d like to be involved or pray as we go there….
☆ Any courses or themes you’d like to follow? A bible study? (which book?) A coffee get together? At home, at church, where? When.. morning afternoon evening?
☆New places to advertise
Some new questions for your consideration please:
# what gatherings can we ‘do’ via Zoom, if it’s difficult for us to meet?
# would you like us to develop services online service/sermon/ prayer/workshop/ topic for reflection, so that you could watch them at your convenience, in your own home?
# Several members have said that their families have got them using Zoom for chats, quizzes and even gatherings like birthdays. Would you let me know if you are now on Zoom?
#Others say they now have cellphones – please give me your number, and we could have a wassap chat or video.
The lovely telephone chats I am having with you are wonderful sharing spaces. Though it’s sometimes difficult to put face to voice should we meet on a walk, it’s a great comfort to me to have that connection and level of easy sharing. Faith circles become contextual if we talk about things topmost in our minds. I am aware that you are all bravely moving along, but also aware that lockdown takes each of us differently, from day to day, and from person to person.
Readings for the week are:
SUNDAY Acts1: 6 to 14 Psalm 68: 1 to11 1 Peter 4: 12 to 145: 6 to 11 John 17: 1 to 11
MONDAY Acts 19: 1 to 10 Psalm 68: 1 to 6 John 16: 19 to 33
TUESDAY Acts 20: 17 to 27 Psalm 68: 7 to 20 John 17: 1 to 11a
WEDNESDAY Acts 20: 28 to 38 Psalm 68: 28 to 35 John 17: 11b to 19
THURSDAY Acts 22: 30, 23: 6 to 11 Psalm 16 John 17: 20 to 26
FRIDAY Acts 25: 13 to 21 Psalm 103: 1 to 2; 19 to 22 John 21: 15 to 19
SATURDAY Acts 28: 16 to 20 Psalm 11 John 21: 20 to 25
So, prayers for you this week are: that you feel the indwelling presence of God in all you do; that you and your family are safe, loving, accepting and happy; that you witness and share the growth of the people of God in new and exciting ways, and that your world as we move towards Pentecost is as pink as our lovely flowers, darkening to red in this coming week!
Yours in Christ