Last week we encouraged you to return to church as soon as you feel the time is right, so that we could start to rebuild our sense of community, just as the exiles returning to Jerusalem did in the days of Nehemiah. This would be a blessing to all of us, and it has been so good to see members of our congregation gradually returning on Sunday mornings. This week’s news has certainly helped too. Premier Christian News reported this week that ‘Mr Javid (the new Health Secretary) said “…there will be no restrictions on communal worship or singing…” There were noises of approval from MPs.’ However, there were still voices of caution in Parliament, saying that this decision, along with the easing of other restrictions such as compulsory wearing of face masks in public spaces, is reckless. We are conscious that these voices can’t be ignored, as the great irony is that what we have been most looking forward to also brings the greatest risk of increased infections.
This is why we need to discern what God is saying to us at this crucial time. To this end, we urge you to attend the Church Members Meeting on Tuesday July 20th, either in person or online (non-members are very welcome to come and be part of the discussion). As Baptists we believe that when we meet together we discern the will of God, so these meetings are not committees, but opportunities to hear God’s voice through the gifts He gives each one of us. Please don’t deprive us of the things He has placed on your heart, as we need your wisdom to move forward into whatever the ‘new normal’ might be. There is no doubt that we will have to do things differently now that the times are changing, but we have a great longing for the renewal of our communal life, so even if you have felt disengaged from church over the past year, please be assured that we value you highly and we need to hear your voice.
There are rewards in sight for our faithfulness to God’s mandate to live life together. On July 25th Sandy Reynolds, our church secretary, is going to be baptised in our newly cleaned baptistery! She has a wonderful testimony of God’s goodness to her, and we can’t wait to take part in this service. So please be there and be blessed, even as we pray for God’s blessing on Sandy.
In the meantime, we are still able to worship God together and to enjoy each other’s company. Last Sunday, Sarah sent us this message which we are sure will encourage you:
Dear friends, I found myself watching church online again today, sadly my son Mike tested positive for Covid yesterday which means we’re all confined to the house for 10 days (thankfully he’s not feeling too unwell and the rest of us are testing negative)
It made me realise that although in person church is very different to what we were used to, it is much more spiritually rewarding than sitting alone watching at home. It’s only having to go back online this morning that made me see how much I’ve been getting out of being in church in person. I’m hoping this will serve as encouragement to anyone who is feeling it might be too distressing to be in church when it’s not ‘normal’. My experience is that it’s a lot less strange than watching online.
For anyone who is concerned about Covid safety I think church is about the safest place I go.
With much love from the confines of home, Sarah
And with our love and prayers too,
Matthew and Pauline