I never thought I’d be saying this when the temperature was still in the 20’s but it is starting to get colder and the seasons are changing. I definitely have turned in to a ‘soft’ Queensland resident! (Notice I did not say Queenslander – come State Of Origin time – whenever that might – be I’ll be wearing blue as always). One of the things we have done in our family to prepare for the cooler weather is to start washing our winter clothes. I have asthma, Leanne suffers from allergies and Caleb also has some allergies so to make sure we don’t spend the day coughing & sneezing we need to wash our clothes to get rid of any dust that might have built up in the warmer months.
The church’s seasons are about to change from the season of Easter into the season after Pentecost – also known as ‘Ordinary Time’. Ironically it seems like this year will be anything but ordinary!
I have in the past used Ordinary Time (with its colour of green) to focus on growth – particularly spiritual growth. This year it takes on a very different focus. Our Parish council met on Monday night via Zoom to discuss the steps back to gathered worship and when we might be able to do so. When we gather things will be different, some things will have changed and perhaps forever. Social distancing will be with us for some time to come. We won’t be able to have all the people we used to have at the same time in the same space in the same way for some time. While some will rush back to ‘physically gathered’ church as soon as we are able, some people will be reluctant to come back physically even though the guidelines will say we can – for various reasons, including they like the online format better.
Some changes will happen gradually but some will seem like they are happening way too fast but remember we are still Church and the Holy Spirit has not been inactive during this time. In fact I am hearing so many Holy Spirit stories that I can’t help but be excited. Our church has already grown during this time and we know that there are many who have not been connecting to Online Church for various reasons – and that is understandable and OK.
Speaking of the Holy Spirit, we are not in Ordinary Time quite yet. Next Sunday is Pentecost and we’d encourage you to wear red to Online church – even if it is red PJ’s! But in preparation for what the Holy Spirit might do next I want you to consider what metaphoric ‘washing’ we might do to prepare.
If you’ve connected to Online Church and are finding it rewarding that is brilliant! But… lets start thinking about how we might make it more meaningful for others – because Church is never an individual experience.
Let’s start at home. The early church as described in the New Testament was really just a big collection of household churches. After much prayer and wrestling I do believe that much of the future growth of our church will have its base in our own homes.
Each step we take we should do so carefully, thoughtfully and aware of government guidelines particularly if you are vulnerable or know some who are. But we can start getting ready. Here are some ideas.
- If you are ‘going to church’ online by yourself and there are others in your home who aren’t – invite them to come to church with you.
- If you are going to church with a ‘big screen’ in a way that would allow others to join you (following government guidelines of course) and you know someone who hasn’t been able to connect or is missing connection or would be good to share church with and complain about Stewart’s sermon with after – invite them to your home (if you are comfortable doing so).
- If you’re going to church on a phone, iPad or laptop and want to be able to connect it to the TV but don’t know how – let us know at [email protected] and we’ll provide ‘tech support’.
- We are looking at how we can safely bring people on site as soon as possible so if you know someone or are someone who would like to be amongst the first to do this please let us know at [email protected]
The most important preparation though is prayer and reading the scriptures and allowing the Holy Spirit to encounter you and move you through these actions. Can I encourage us all to pray, read, share and talk a little more than we usually do.
God is moving through the Holy Spirit right now. Let’s start by setting us and our homes on fire for God this Pentecost.