I suppose that reluctantly we’ve all got used to life under lockdown but hopefully things will begin to change. The Prime Minister will be making his much-anticipated announcement on Monday and as churches we will start to contemplate a return to services in church. We don’t yet know what the timetable will be but it will present challenges and opportunities. In particular, how do we combine the best of what we did before with some of the new possibilities we’ve discovered during this past year?
We’ve already made plans for our weekly Zoom services into March. This Sunday the service will be led by me with Bramhope folk, on 28th Feb we’ll have a Mission in Britain service with Vicky Atkins, chaplain at Woodhouse Grove School, on 7th March Jenny will lead our worship, on 14th March it’s Mothering Sunday and we’ll focus on caring for children and young people during lockdown and on 21st March we’ll hear about the work of Leprosy Mission in a service led by Neil Moffoot.
In these Zoom services, there’s been a strong sense of joining together in worship with contributions from many people including our young people with their own session feeding into ours. Alongside the spoken word, we’ve used music, song, video and pictures to enrich our worship. Some people have joined in by phone and others have watched the recordings via YouTube (last week’s service is at https://youtu.be/1QI1LMGIddQ). There’s a great deal that’s been good about these services that we’ll want to continue.
When the time comes to move back into church, we won’t be able to do everything we used to do in church and continue everything online. We’ll have make choices and discover a new way that works best for everyone. This won’t be an easy process but could it be a vital God-given opportunity for us?
Our Lenten journey through Mark’s Gospel has just begun and already we’re seeing people meeting on Zoom and others reading Mark on their own all contributing. I sense that this kind of hybrid pattern is what we need to develop going forward.
Our Lenten journey began with Mark 10.32: ‘They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.’ Mark doesn’t make it clear who was amazed and who was afraid – perhaps those following Jesus felt both emotions? Jesus spelt out to his disciples that this journey would take him to death and beyond. It was impossible for Jesus’ followers to fully understand but they could make the choice to follow the way of Jesus.
We’re living in tough times and the future is uncertain but we can still resolve to follow the way of Jesus. Along the way there’ll continue to be good things we can enjoy and there’ll be challenges we will face together. I don’t have the answers but I’m glad to be making the journey together with you.