Moving from the virtual to the real… 

Dear friends,

On Monday, children in England finally went back to school, and we are quite sure that many of them were very glad to do so.  If anyone had told them a year ago that the time would come when going to school would be much more welcome than staying at home for a very extended break, we are sure that some of them would have strongly disagreed, but the past year has changed our perceptions, so that we are now much more grateful for many things which we once either took for granted, or just about tolerated. Certainly, the little ones interviewed by the BBC as they arrived at school for the first time for months, were thrilled to be back with their friends and teachers, in spite of the obvious signs of the new safety regimes which were now in place.

Of course, there were a few tears, not least from the parents, who simultaneously were thrilled to be relieved of the demands of home schooling, but also anxious for their precious offspring. Some children were reluctant to leave Mum and Dad when the time came, and that is hardly surprising given that some of them had only experienced school as a fitful, interrupted thing where they had never been given time to settle down and feel at home.  We are sure that even teenagers, full of the insecurities which come with their age, would also have mixed feelings about returning to the classroom, and wonder if they would cope with the demands of catching up with the lessons they have missed. They have been labelled ‘The Lost Generation’, which is hardly likely to fill them with confidence, so teachers and parents will be keen to help them to re-establish their resilience, and to give them the encouragement they need.

We are very mindful that it is not only children and young people who have had their confidence knocked in some way over the past year.  Many of us have become wary of stepping outside, or of seeing other people, as the normal routine of family visits, shopping, holidays or trips to the cinema have all been curtailed. Even the rhythm of church life has been interrupted and we now see each other in small boxes on our computer screens instead of across the aisles at church or chatting over coffee in the foyer. Of course, the love and fellowship of God has never ceased, but even so, it is time to reimagine what life as a gathered in-person community will be like, so that we are prepared to step away from our doorsteps and experience the joy of being a gathered, in-person community, confident in the love of God and the fellowship of our brothers and sisters in Jesus.  So we hope it won’t be very long before we can once again say ‘see you soon’ and really mean it, as God works within us and around us to build His Kingdom here in this town.

With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline