Moving forward - slowly and cautiously
It seems that within the country all is far from well. The government has just announced
further restrictions on people meeting together. Sadly, this may affect our contact with
family and friends but the restrictions don’t affect us as a church directly. I suspect because
church services are normally well-regulated and provide a very safe environment compared
to pubs and restaurants. Regarding church services we can still have services with more than thirty present provided we adhere to regulations concerning social distancing and hand-
sanitising, and cleaning the church and a myriad of other requirements.
How should we respond to the restrictions? Recently on the What’s App EFCC Ministers’ Forum one minister told the story of how he was talking to an elderly believer after their first service following lockdown. The minister, having struggled with the preparation was very conscious of all that they had not been able to do and was rather apologetic. The elderly believer rebuked him, ‘It’s a thousand times better than not being able to meet!’ That’s an attitude we all need to have.
The Lord’s Supper
We have made cautious advances in that we have celebrated the Lord’s Supper for the first time since the lockdown began in March. Having done so once, and in doing so seeking to be as careful as possible about the risks of cross-contamination we have of course found one or two areas where we can improve and will address them next time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Thanks for the feedback we received which was extremely helpful.
Looking for the positives I think that any thought that we just take observing the Lord’s
Supper for granted because we do so regularly is now clearly not true at this time. In the
same way in which not being able to meet together meant that I value all the more that fact
that we now can, so being able again to celebrate the Lord’s Supper means I appreciate the
Lord’s wisdom in commanding us to do this in remembrance of him. We can so easily drift
from basing our faith and life on the gospel that a stark reminder that fellowship with him
rests on his bloody agony and death is a helpful reminder. We appreciate that some people
were, understandably, concerned about the risks involved. We are seeking to minimise any
risk both for those who partake and any who are there and for any reason feel it is not right
for them to partake.
The Bible Study and Prayer Meeting
We, as have a number of churches, have come to the conclusion that this cannot be restarted in its usual form until the restrictions we are currently under are lifted. Accordingly we decided that as we are entitled to meet in groups of up to six in different homes we should use this entitlement to enable small groups to share together in the meeting. We again understand and accept that a number of people who have attended the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting in the past do not feel safe with that and we would encourage them to share in the meeting in their own homes as all of us were doing until recently.
Inevitably, given that we want to keep to the law in this, there are complications in how we
have to organise ourselves. We cannot just announce venues for people to turn up to
because we would potentially have to turn people away in order to remain legal. So we have
to organise locations once we know how many are attending each week. We have enough
people offering their homes to make this viable. So we are asking that if you wish to start
attending such a group to let Margaret Plant know and we will notify you where you will be
meeting. It is possible we may have a group meeting one afternoon and we will notify you of
this if it happens.
Where to from here?
1) Responding to the new normality
At the moment we are seeking to make things look better in the church, by replacing the taping on the pews with properly fitted and more attractive looking cords. Doubtless there will be other ways in which we try to tidy things up and make them look more attractive. The reason for deciding that we need to do this is that we are increasingly aware that the measures we are under are likely to be more long-term than any of us originally anticipated. We will also try and see if we can find ways of people leaving the church following a service which avoid congestion and any risks associated with this. Please be aware that following the church service we need to observe social distancing regulations and not to congregate in groups larger than six.
2) Our weekly schedule While we will keep matters under review we do not currently have
any plans to expand on what we are doing on a weekly basis:
1. We will continue to meet on Sunday mornings
2. We will continue to have the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting material available for
Tuesday evenings and to arrange opportunities for people to meet in small groups if
they are able to do so and would find it helpful
3. We will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper on the first Sunday of each month
3) Special Events On Sunday 27th September we will have our Harvest Thanksgiving Service at our normal service time of 10.30am. There will be the opportunity to bring gifts for the Honiton Food Bank, which has been experiencing exceptional demand in the last few
months. We will give further details in advance of the service.
I think as Christians there should always be a mental DV = Deo Volente = God Willing in any
advance plans we make. It is commanded in Scripture and underlined for us by our present
uncertain circumstances (James 4: 13 – 15), ‘Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow
we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” –
yet do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that
appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we
will live and do this and that.”’
Yours in the Lord,
11th September 2020