August, in Scotland, is traditionally a time of new beginnings. The children go back to school after the ‘rainy month’ which began the moment they broke up (!)… the clubs and societies start up again after the summer break … and people talk of recent holidays, feeling refreshed and being eager to get going again.
And in some ways this year is no different. The children, thankfully, will be returning to school. The clubs – or rather some of them – will begin again. And a few of us have been fortunate enough to get away for a few days holiday – even if we haven’t experienced quite the fortnight of sun we had hoped for.
But of course in other ways nothing is the same. Everything has altered. We are returning to a life which looks and feels very different. Face masks have become the norm. Not hugging or even shaking hands with each other is acceptable. We are aware of our personal space and of not touching unnecessary surfaces in a way which would have been unthinkable 5 months ago. We even think twice about going out. But on the other hand, we also look out for our neighbours more now and contact the people we haven’t seen for sometime more often. We are working our way through (we hope) a global event which has left thousands dead, economies stretched and many of us traumatised in ways which I don’t think even we realise at the moment.
And the church is included in this mix, of course. We have not been unaffected. Many of you have not received the sacrament for almost 5 months. Corporate worship has been reduced to an online experience. We have not seen each other for weeks on end. Financially we are only afloat because of the generosity of so many of you. But that is about to change yet again. We will open for public prayer on Wednesday 5th August (10am) and Sunday 9th August (8.30 & 10am) holding services of reflection, not Communion. This is because we felt as a Vestry that it was important to acknowledge in our worship what has happened – that somehow it was important not just to ‘go back’ straightaway to how it was before. We wanted to come together for prayer first and foremost and only then move on to celebrate each thing as it is introduced separately, including a much desired Holy Communion.
And although I am very much looking forward to worshipping together again, I am very conscious of those of you who, very sensibly, feel you cannot come and join us at this juncture. My heart goes out to you. But please know that you are not forgotten. If you let me know I will continue to send the sermon and video to you on Saturday night. I will also continue to Zoom a Eucharist on Wednesday afternoon (2pm) for those who cannot come in the morning. Again let me know if you wish to be sent the link for this. I wish we could live stream the church services so in a virtual sense we could all be together – but the technology for that is still an unknown – although we are working on it! For those of you who cannot come to church nor can Zoom – please get in touch with me by phone (01620 826667) or email email@example.com and we can arrange visits and Home Communions (when we are allowed).
Elsewhere in this magazine I have written about how the services in church will work – and I will also send out a video made by the Province to explain how we have made it as safe as possible for people to attend worship. I am hoping that despite the restriction of 50 people we will be able to avoid having to have a ‘’booking system’ for the services.
I would like at this point to express my heartfelt thanks to all the Vestry who have worked tirelessly throughout this time, supporting me and meeting to make decisions often at very short notice. I thank them all.
So we are at a new juncture, looking towards a new future. And I find it comforting to know that God journeys before us. Wherever we go and whatever happens God is there, in it and with us, transforming, if we let Him, horrendous situations into ones of hope and promise. The passage from Isaiah 43 comes to mind: “ See, I am doing a new thing! Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” God bless you all.
with love, Liz
with love, Liz