Our little granddaughter had a birthday this week, and her big present was a toy kitchen. It has everything the modern kitchen needs – cupboards, oven, hob and microwave – and we all chipped in to buy the relevant pots, pans, tea set and food items. It is a lovely thing and she loves it, probably because it is completely appropriate for her. It’s a good fit for her age and ability and lets her imagination soar, so we are looking forward to sharing many imaginary cups of tea and pieces of cake. She has been watching her mum and dad cooking for a long time, and had started to ‘borrow’ the pans to play with, but that equipment was not appropriate for her and her parents need it. At her age she naturally wants to copy what they do, and try it out for herself, but she is very small, and she has to be kept safe, so the answer is a kitchen of her own.
It’s made us wonder what things we might be trying to copy, or cling on to, because they spark our curiosity and imaginations. There are so many interesting initiatives we could try, both as individuals and as churches, but there is wisdom in making sure that we either adapt what others are doing so that it becomes a good fit for us – to make it appropriate for our own context, as we’ve had to do to identify the best way for us to do online church – or to accept that we are not the right people for that particular task. It’s so easy to go down a path that takes us to a place where we end up merely coping, rather than thriving, so perhaps the best question to ask is ‘what resources has God given us?’ because they will tell us what he wants us to do.
Right now we are asking difficult questions about where God is leading His church, and we are struggling to do things in new and appropriate ways. For example, we are particularly mindful of the younger children in our wider church community who are not getting access to the groups which help them to thrive. We cannot hold Noah’s Ark at the moment, or take the children out to our Zone group during the Sunday morning service, and this hurts us as well as them. So we have looked at the advice we have been given and the stories which other churches are telling, and we have decided to adapt the new Messy Church guidelines to our current context, as this provides at least one way of connecting with those we have been ministering to over recent years. Last Sunday afternoon, we held an ‘in person’, Covid-secure, much reduced Messy Church session because we believed (correctly!) that God had given us the means to do it. But we are also aware that there are many other things we want to do which are just not appropriate for us any more, at least for the time being. If you like, they no longer fit, perhaps because we don’t yet have the resources we need to allow us to do the work properly and safely, or perhaps because God has other plans for us.
But just because what we used to do might no longer fit, either in church or in our own lives, we can hold on to the truth that God never leaves us empty-handed if he wants us to do something for him. Perhaps, in keeping with our current sermon series, you feel that God is saying ‘no’ to the way of doing things you have become accustomed to, and which seemed to be working well. But if that time has passed, and new ways are now required, let’s pray that God will give us the resources which we need, so that we can be fully and appropriately equipped to thrive once more, and to let our imaginations soar.
With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline