Easter at home
Looking forward to a different Easter Programme It is strange for me to think that next week will be the week leading up to Easter. We looked forward to it as a prime opportunity for outreach and then it takes place during shutdown. Our programme for the week will take account of the fact that it is Easter Week so while the other things will be as usual, I will be producing an audio service for Palm Sunday and of course for Easter Sunday, we will additionally be adding a service for Good Friday. It is a particular opportunity to focus on the cross and this fits in with the series I am preaching on how the love of God is shown to us through the gospel. So on Palm Sunday (5th April) we will focus on the fact that God gave his SON – who is the one who the Father gives up to the cross out of love for the World? On Good Friday we will look at the fact that God GAVE his Son – what does him being given up to the experience of the cross mean for him? On Easter Sunday we will obviously be considering the resurrection and what it means for the faith of Christians that Jesus is alive. These are not just important messages for those who are believers but also for those who would like to think seriously about the Christian faith. At a time when people need hope we have the advantage of a solid, reliable and proven hope.
How can we reach out at a time like this? One fact that has been mentioned in several articles I’ve read has been a dramatic increase in the number of those accessing church services on the internet since the lockdown with coronavirus. A frequent illustration of the difficulties that non-Christian may experience going to a church service is to ask how those of us with a Christian background might feel going into a betting shop. We’re unfamiliar with the venue and the procedures – personally I wouldn’t know how to place a bet – and this serves as a powerful disincentive to using a betting shop. One way the gambling industry has tried to widen their market is by introducing on-line betting and sadly it has become quite successful with people who haven’t previously gambled becoming involved and in some cases addicted. The principle is simple – we want to give people who are unfamiliar with something the chance to explore it without having to publicly identify and to risk being embarrassed. It may be that on-line services, whether audio or video, may enable non-Christians to more easily have contact with the gospel. It would be good then if we can find ways to contact people who may be interested and point them in the right direction. There is great material available on the internet and some very dangerous and misleading material.
Realistically people turn to all sorts of things in a time of difficulty so the current significant increase in alcohol sales should come as no surprise. People will be intending to drown their sorrows and emerging from lockdown may simply be an excuse for a return to a pleasure-seeking and pleasure-anaesthetised lifestyle. For some God will use the outworking of his providence to draw them to faith but sadly there will also be those who are hardened in their sins.
The Easter Craft Afternoon had to be cancelled but we hope to maintain contact by sending out Easter greetings and a link to the Easter Services. This is something that may well be extended to other people that we as a church and individuals are in contact with.
Toddler Group reaching out The Toddler Group closed early because it closed when the schools closed. This meant that the final session of the term was missed – so the children missed hearing the Easter story in church and the Easter Egg hunt. So packages containing a book about the Easter story and their Easter eggs have been made and are being delivered to the homes of the Toddler families. We have a church toddler group messenger group that many of the mums are on. We are planning to put a link to the Easter services on the site and would be grateful if you would pray that some may listen.
Keeping in touch We as a church are seeking to keep up contact with all who have been attending the church. If you need help with shopping or would simply be grateful for a phone call then do contact us and let us know. We are all very conscious of how abnormal things are at present and realize this puts a huge strain on some people. We were not made by God for solitude and enforced solitary existence does put immense strains on us. I think we all feel the need to get out and be with people and I know from contact with a number of friends that some people are very unhappy with the present pattern of life enforced on us. Some, particularly those prone to depression and loneliness, are struggling to manage from day to day. If anyone needs help, or know of others who do, please get in touch and we will do all we can to help.
Back to work I’m now getting back to preparing for the service which I will be taking here in my study and recording for the website. Please do direct other people you think could be helped to the website – the more people we can help the better.
Preaching on your own for uploading to the internet is an odd experience – it certainly makes me miss everyone and long to see you all face-to-face again.
My love in the Lord,
Mike Plant (Pastor)
4th April 2020