The above picture was taken on Trinity Sunday after the Zoom Eucharist – it was not quite how any of us envisaged celebrating our 250th birthday, but it was a happy occasion nonetheless. I hope that those of you who can’t join us on Zoom realise that you are never forgotten and are always prayed for during the service. We remain one in spirit.
And now there are signs of a return to gladden our hearts. Not a return to exactly how things were before – because we can never go back in time – but a return nonetheless. And the people in the Bible knew all about returning – to God…. to their homeland after exile. Just think of the words of hope from the different prophets as they encouraged their returning people: ‘Comfort, comfort, my people’…. ‘I have plans for you, says the Lord’… ‘Do not be afraid for the Lord goes before you’… the history of the Israelites is full of wise words of restoration and promise. Do you feel that hope? That encouragement? Or not yet?
Of course, nobody knows what will happen – or even what the world will look like as this trauma fades into the past. But there are signs of change, good change which I hope will be realised. There is perhaps a chance for a change in our relationship with our world – who can forget the pictures of the fish in the canals of Venice, or the clear skies and air of pollution-free cities? Perhaps there might be a change in our global relationships as we have realised afresh how much we need each other? Surely it is no coincidence that the Black Lives Matter campaign has arisen at this time. Perhaps there is a chance for a change in our spirituality as many have tuned into online services for the first time and as the surveys claim one in 20 have started praying?
Change may, as we all know, be difficult to face – but we, ourselves, have changed already. None of us have been immune. And that change has included loss – a loss for which we must have the chance to lament. The loss of a year’s education for our children… the loss of being able to touch, hug and shake the hands of another… the loss of being able to see each other’s full faces… the loss of a loved one. These have and will continue to affect us.
I hope none of us have lost our faith – although this time may well again have changed our relationship with God. And that’s OK. That’s healthy. But whilst we change (hopefully for the better sometimes!) we can be sure that God has not changed. God remains faithful and full of love for each one of us; always ready to hear our cries as well as our praises; always ready to welcome us whenever we turn to Him.
Take heart. Keep smiling. Keep the words of Isaiah in your minds: “The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
with love, Liz