I am sure many of you are familiar with the reading a time for everything from Ecclesiastes 3
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
If not in this form from the bible, then in the form of the 1960s song.
We live by sayings and quotes and at this time of Covid-19 we are no different.
“Nothing new under the sun” has been quoted with pictures of masked individuals during the Spanish flu and of course the famous first line from Dickens novel “it was the best of times and the worst of times.” which certainly seems appropriate as we under go changes every day to our routines that are guided by scientists and medics, watered down by government and then given out in weekly statements. I have seen Gods love abound as people stepped up to care for neighbours, as well as families and friends. Community has grown stronger in places and I have been delighted in watching the Holy Spirit move in people within our estate as the seek to find an answer to all the darkness that seemed to be encroaching our lives. The Church made of people, not a building- has evolved quickly to ensure worshiping together was held together, and included more than ever before, but also that justice has been at the heart of the ventures. I have been touched, and wept with people as I have heard stories of people’s mental anguish and it’s been a privileged to walk with so many struggling with mental health issues during this time, people of all ages young and old.
I have rejoiced as young people stepped up to our weekly challenges, and left lots of pebbles of hope along the paths of the estate, as well as cheering our walks with wonderful window displays of first Easter then Pentecost as well as the universal rainbows.
Change, it’s inevitable and with it brings loss but also so much more, and as a church it’s been hard for us to change our ways, to do things differently to engage the society and culture in which we are part. Then along comes a virus. A small virus. Change heads our way - full steam ahead and we have been swept up and everything has changed. Wether we wanted to or not. The church as we knew it has gone. It will be many more months at best and at worst possibly years before we get a vaccine that may allow us all to worship in a way previously recognised. Covid has come and with it change - ‘a time to die and a time to be born.’
We can embrace the change, evolve and watch the beauty of all that is happening with hope. Gods Hope. Gods hope and love that never changes and never ends.
We are stronger together and Covid has swept away some of the settled dust of centuries and allowed the church to respond in new ways. Housebound and those who found the ‘building’ difficult to enter can now join in worship online. As a community it has been a joy to see so many of you step up to help make our morning services possible, involving so many, highlighting the good in our communities and where change is needed.
Although limited its been good to worship together in the evening services and to ensure they are as safe as possible while not feeling clinical. As we look forward we must continue to embrace change, to “roll with it” to see where the Holy Spirit is working. Neighbourhood buddies have slowed but are still there for those in need. Our community ventures of Angel Scarecrows and Advent Windows will help with social resilience while spreading the message of Gods love to our estate. As will “Joytober” as we learn together to look deeply into our hearts and minds for the blessings and gifts we have been given each day. Changing though patterns into more positive outlooks.
Creation Sunday highlighted the need for us to wake up and see the damage inflicted on the earth. Gods creation is beautiful but we have abused it and now we must change our ways as individuals and as churches to ensure a future for our children. Even Covid was brought about because of humanity’s destruction of wildlife habitats. It’s Time to Change’.
Harvest, Advent for Advent and our weekly collections for food bank are more important than ever, as so many are still on furlough or have lost their jobs entirely. Keeping the local food bank stocked is essential as Christmas begins to wind its way to us.
Homelessness Sunday, highlights a need that has gone out of people’s mind with so many found temporary homes, yet as the Covid virus continues and the economy is slowly opened up following lockdown, people are forced to the streets once more. The special Sunday teaches us what we can do to help people, who often through no fault of their own have ended up living on the street.
The Sanctuary course continues to teach and guide us how to care, love and help those whose mental health is struggling with all that has happened in their lives.
Hugs in Boxes shows people we care, spreads a message of hope and light in what can be a dark world.
And I praise God that people are willing to help me install the word HOPE outside our church to let people know that the church offers hope to our community, hope to our children, and hope to each other through the gospel. The church is very much alive, and we remain a community of hope. The reading from Ecclesiastes 3 sums up what is happening to us as individuals and as a church. Jesus’ words love thy neighbour gives us the opportunity to share Gods love and message of good news with all that we meet. Today this is even more crucial.
Covid has brought us up short but some of the things that have happened have been a blessing. There is ‘a time to lament’ but it’s also a ‘time to seek’, evolve, and expand our hearts and minds.
In Liverpool we have the “Rule of life” which is a way of living our lives and it’s available to follow either by yourself or as a church and great resources are offered by the diocese to help us keep this rule for ourselves. The Rule was given simple headings by Bishop Paul. The rule states we need to pray, read, learn so that we can be sent to tell and give. Covid has given many the time to evaluate their lives. To take the time to pray, and read so that we can learn together and as a church we must do this constantly, so that we can continue to share the good-news, to change lives forever. To make a bigger difference by being a bigger church seeking always to love, and bring justice for those who have no voice. As a church we do need ‘time to grieve’ and I know one day hopefully soon, we will have a ‘time to dance’. In the meantime together we will continue to share Christ’s love to those we meet and have time with each day. Covid has brought blessings as well as heartache but whatever we think of it it’s here to stay. How we respond is crucial. blessings