And it’s not as simple as it sounds, at least for churches. It seems to me that the easing of the lockdown for most people cannot come soon enough. The needs of haircuts and dental treatment and the wants of a visit to a Theme Park and the Pub are powerful draws. But what about church? Is that a need or a want and if, and when, should we open?
I’ll be honest with you we’re doing alright in lockdown. We’ve moved our Sunday Service on-line and increased the number of people who are taking part: at least we have more online views than we had average attendance before lockdown! Those figures are backed-up by conversations with people who we know are watching from home, both near and far. But isn’t there more to church than just watching a video?
Yes, there is! And, what about those who are still concerned about the virus? Not everyone wants to be “unlocked”; some are still recommended to shield, and more are sensibly cautious about returning to all they did before. So, can we really be a church if a portion of the people cannot come? That is the heart of the matter.
We have seen the difficulties and challenges that shops, wine bars and builders’ merchants have had to go through to open, I believe the church has an even bigger challenge. Each of the those wants to have a relationship with their customers, but the church doesn’t just want to get you in the door and we certainly don’t want you to buy anything; the joy of knowing Jesus is a free gift. What the church is really about is building a community between its members, involving all of them. That challenge is greater, especially when it comes to being COVID secure. Every step that we take to secure against virus transmission is a limitation to the true deep and meaningful relationships that normally mark out a church.
So, do we stay locked down or do we unlock?
During August we will at the very least remain online and we hope you will join us via our YouTube channel. However, we are also looking very hard into how we can open the Church building again. Despite the challenges we hope, very soon, to be able to welcome you into our building and start building that new community that Jesus Christ began 2000 years ago and that is still growing to this day.
It has never been easier to see for yourself what it means to be part of a church. You can take part in a Sunday worship service while sat in your favourite arm chair at home, and yes we would love to hear from you and know that you are joining us but that really is up to you. We continue to pray for all in the communities of Tendring and Baburgh and would love to pray for you (we have a prayer line) and are happy to help. We are involved with modern day “almsgiving” via local COVID help groups and other charities but can help you directly, too, if you need us.
Learning from history
Coronavirus - Covid-19.
There is a very real sense in which the spread of Covid-19, the newest of the Corona virus family, is not really all that new at all. There have been viruses that have spread around the world before and we are indeed blessed to have never been as well prepared as we are in these days. Yet despite our technical expertise, and world-wide collaboration there are things we can learn from the experience of others down through history.
I remember best the Black Death as we now know it, back then it was just the plague. I remember it because we had a brand-new history teacher at school who made the subject come alive by setting up a brilliant set of lessons where teams of 6 of us had to defeat the black death as it came to our village. I can still remember it now nearly 40 years later!
Anyway in 1348 the plague arrived in England, at Weymouth by boat from France we believe, and in a few months it had reached London; a year later it had covered the whole of the Country. The spread was slower than today but the mortality higher; without our modern health care as many as 40% of the population died.
Such a terrible tragedy was still in the mind of many 7 years later and one such was John Wycliffe. Already at Oxford when the Plague arrived, he was deeply affected by what he had experienced; he was left with an abiding impression of the frailty, fallenness and mortality of men and women and especially himself. Comparing this with the Love and Grace of God offered freely to him and discovered in the then Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent writings, Wycliffe became a Christian.
He went on to translate the Bible into English believing that, “Englishmen learn Christ's law best in English. Moses heard God's law in his own tongue; so did Christ's apostles.” Wycliffe found in Jesus Christ the comfort of knowing our Creator God who is all powerful over even pandemics of viruses. He said, “We are under God's power, and we can do nothing but by the power of God, and woe shall hereafter be to us if we abuse this power.”
If you would like to meet this Jesus you can, He still becomes friends with people today, as He did with Wycliffe. Join us at church on Sundays via YouTube (10:15am). There is a link on our website (www.trinity-manningtree.org.uk) or you can request to connect by emailing .uk or phone 01206 393745.