A Warm Welcome Awaits!

For well over a year the pandemic, and government regulations in response to it, have kept us from congregating in church as we would normally have done. Through our God-given inventiveness we’ve joined virtual services online and used technology to connect.  At the height of lockdown when our churches were closed and we were live-streaming, there was a very meaningful joke circulating…

The Devil said to God, “See what I’ve accomplished?  I’ve closed all the world’s churches”.  But God replied “Ah yes, but I’ve opened a church in every home!

God will not be beaten!  The family is of course the Domestic Church and technology added a new dimension with families gathered around the screen worshipping together.

Now the Government has made its plans for the Summer known and we put our pews back into their normal positions, we are reminded that in our smaller church we are in any case limited by space.  Those who have already ventured back know that their sensitivities have been heightened as we had to endure protocols that are abnormal and frustrating. Whenever the infection rates are low enough, we want to eventually, warmly welcome ALL parishioners and families back as soon as YOU feel safe and ready.  Here are a few reasons why.

Genesis tells us that God made Adam, then Eve from Adam’s side and humanity from their union, male and female, in his image (Gen. 1:26–27; 2:18–25). We’re configured to see, hear, taste, touch and feel our way through the physical world that God has created but this last year or so we’ve seen the power of our online world. And we have felt its limitations, for the church is one body – Christ’s body on earth (Eph. 1:22–23) – and in it we’re intrinsically linked together (Eph. 4:15–16), each one of our individual gifts playing their part in the body’s growth and mission. But like any healthy body, we ideally operate best when we are not dislocated.  We are one body but we also have one Holy Spirit (Eph 4:4), the third person of the Trinity, always drawing us towards unity so when believers are separated unintentionally, we may feel the tension.  We join not only with our risen Lord and His Word in the Gospel, but with each other. Food enjoyed together is better than food eaten alone.

When the church gathers in congregation, the work of ministry isn’t mainly for the clergy. It’s for every believer, for each of us has spiritual gifts, given to be used and the church body needs every part of it to be working (Rom 12:4-8; 1 Pet 4:10-11).  In fact our collective worship is a witness.  Every day, people experience the same broken world that we do but perhaps without our hope and our trust. They may ask where grace and truth can be found. We can minister to them online in various ways of course, as we use our God-given skills and use technologies to reach new people with methods perhaps more familiar to them. However the unbelieving world at times benefits from the gospel’s power as reflected in Christians who go out from Mass and ooze their love for God to those who might be influenced or helped by it.

Those who run a welcoming ministry to greet parishioners at the church door, now a valuable part of stewarding, are promoting the church’s family dynamic and reminds us of the gospel unity we enjoy in Christ.  The New Testament writers often asked Christians to greet each other – for every greeting reflects God’s love, proclaims hospitality, could even open doors and reunites Christ’s body.  Even if these greetings are accompanied by a squirt of sanitiser, they’re potentially still life-shaping deeds in our church.

For many, you might still feel the need to exercise caution for yourself or those you love and be unable to return right away, or you might consider our new Socially Distanced Mass, still with all the Covid precautions, on a Thursday evening in church in lieu of Sunday. We may extend this idea to a weekend Mass if it is popular. You might instead need to keep watching from a safer distance whilst dispensation to live-stream is still in force. We understand. But when the time is right for you, God’s people will gather again, and we will welcome you back with open arms.