Hope is one of those gifts from God that comes to us at the most difficult of times. Hope is a word that I am sure many of us have often used lightly in the past. “I hope the weather will be good tomorrow” But, as we know, hope is so much more, so much deeper, and so much more important.
Hope may seem difficult for us to feel at the moment. We dwell and ponder instead. Is this virus under control? Are people taking notice of social distancing? Are my exam results good enough for University? Will we get away on holiday? Have I got a job after furloughing? Will I see my grandchildren more regularly? There are so many changes to our lives, to our world; there are so many questions doing circles through our minds.
And yet, as we ponder and move on to hope, perhaps we’ve recognised God’s presence and strength, and even peace with us, in a way that at the time of our worries couldn’t expect.
I believe that just as God has been in the past, God is with us now, in this time, offering us those same gifts of strength, peace and above all hope.
In July our church building at Holy Trinity reopened. The church has not been closed – I and many others have been busy doing other things across our communities and on line. The doors might have been closed but we have been busy. I am sure we will need to discover new ways of being church, beyond and living with Covid.
One key aspect of which will be how we supported one another over the lockdown phase of the pandemic is how we shared those simple acts of love: by a phone call, an email, an offer of help to one another and to our neighbours and above all in prayer. We may have been physically separated but we remained and continue united in faith as the Body of Christ both here and throughout the world. Together that is a powerful force of prayer and source of hope for us and others.
With the church reopened, there is much to do. Our finances may not be great, but our spirit and faith are solid. We hope that you will all come back to church soon. We may lose some people, but will we gain others? We need people to help us in gifts of service, money, and prayer. Could that be you I wonder?
Now at the end of August and as we approach September, we are all conscious that we are developing a new “normal”. People are starting to get out and about again, the shops are seeing customers and we are all wearing masks. Our community is waking up again and changing to adapt to different circumstances. Like many town centres Weymouth continues to see an increase in closed businesses. What a shame the landlords do not help them to get back on their feet by reducing rents. Despite this, so much compassion has been realised through acts and deeds of kindness for others. Friendships might have developed. It is time to build on those friendships, re-galvanise our communities, not retreat behind the triple glazing and slump into Netflix. And what about Sundays? What about Church?
So where is the community spirit heading now as the lock down eases, schools reopen in a few days, furloughing changes, the busyness of live resumes some sense of normality (whatever that means)? What does all this mean for you, me and our church?.
Let me take you into the scriptures for inspiration and reflection. It is a verse from the Book of Hebrews which I think sums up what we all need to do, moving forward:
‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching’ Hebrews 10:24-25
We are in this together, and together with the God who loves us more than we can ever know or understand we will get through it. More than that I pray we will emerge into the next phase of this pandemic – walking in the light with our faith, hope and love strengthened and love for each other, and willingness to help one another when called for, assured.