the road back blog-01-2

Reflection by Stewart Perry

Over the weekend we’ll be glued to news reports about what ‘the road back’ looks like. The media have been teasing and speculating all week and I’m sure you’ve been wondering about what it all means for our life as we move forward in these ‘uncertain’ and ‘unprecedented’ times. These two ‘U’ words are becoming more and more grating the more I hear them…and my guess is that I’m not alone.

As followers of Jesus, there is a sense that we should be aware of our sure and certain hope in the resurrection, and the sure and certain reality of God’s presence. We should also be craving new opportunities and fresh mission fields – and beaccustomed to God using us in surprising and unexpected ways. In spite of this, it is hard to stay focused on these thingsall the time, especially when people keep using those dreaded ‘U’ words.

I won’t sugar coat it – it has been really hard and really hard work leading our church. It had already started as a frantic and frenetic year, but since we’ve begun living in a ‘COVID-19 World’ the pace and pressure has increased exponentially. I am so blessed to be so well assisted and supported by amazing staff who have been making ongoing sacrifices, as well as maintaining  creativity and ingenuity in trying times. The encouragement we’ve all received has been overwhelming too – in a good way! I am aware that the vast majority of our church has been incredibly active caring for each other, andincredibly Godly role models, serving when and where they are able.

One of the most common questions I get asked is: “When do you think we’ll be able to meet together again?”. Even with my best prophetic gifting (which is not a spiritual gift I’ve ever discerned in myself) it is still very unclear. But we are beginning to plan the ‘road back’ to being together.

So here are some possibilities as I see them:

Stage 1 – we may be allowed to reopen the building for private prayer.

Stage 2 – we may be able to expand the number of people present while recording worship and to ‘invite’ others to attend while this happens.

Stage 3 – we may be able to have small services and small groups reactivate.

Stage 4 – we may be able to go ‘back to Sundays’ with a limited gathered congregation, with a simultaneous livestream for those unable to or unwilling to return.

I do think that Stage 4 will become our ‘new normal’ and we are preparing for a recorded or live-streamed option to retain as a normal offering in our church. God willing we will be able to slowly increase gathered numbers.

All of this will be subject to levels of hygiene, social distancing and common sense – probably until there is some form of vaccine available… That is my view at least – but like all of us I am subject to much higher earthly powers as well as God’s power!

As we look forward we would really value your feedback, including any ideas, so please feel free to contact me directly with this: [email protected]

We did get some very exciting news yesterday. We are able to begin to plan to reopen Op Shops from next week!! Yes that is soon and there will be a lot to plan for. So, all going well we hope to open a Pop Up Op Shop in the Lakeview Building sometime next week or the week after.

The Diocese has been very specific that no vulnerable people can be involved in this venture in a ‘public’ way. The definition of vulnerable includes people with compromised immune systems and anyone over 70. The latter will be disappointing for most churches, including ours, as many people over 70 have been deeply affected by the isolation of these times. However, we must be faithful to the directions we are given and rejoice at the opportunity to trial a ‘soft re-opening’.

This will be an essential ministry to our community which is struggling on many levels as well as a much needed boost to the finances of the church.

We are calling on any willing, available and able church members, or people you may know who would be willing, available and able to supplement our existing ‘under 70s’ Op Shop Volunteers. If you are willing or able please email:[email protected]. I, for one, will be making sure I am present whenever I am able.

The road back will be slow but it will allow us to focus on the most important road back – the road back to a right relationship with Jesus – and I pray that we will prioritise this road back above all else.

Stay safe, Happy Mothers Day and hope to see you in church this Sunday (online church at least!)

Blessings

Stewart

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