The Ven John Barton considers the sorrows of the past year.

The Queen recently spoke for the whole country when she said that many are, “tinged with sadness. Some (are) mourning the loss of those dear to them and other missing friends and family members, distanced for safety. When all they really want … is a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand.”

We may have become accustomed to wearing face masks in public, keeping our distance from others, cutting out social gatherings, and attending church services online, but ‘no touching’ seems the cruellest of punishments.  

As one vicar friend of mine said, the Church has had to learn a lot from lockdown: 

“That Zoom is no substitute for meeting together, sharing warmth, laughter, tears – and drinking from the same cup. We have a commonality in Christ, whoever we are. Christianity is more ‘us’ than ‘me’.

“Also, we cannot ignore those who will bear considerable cost arising from the pandemic. People have lost loved ones, businesses, confidence, jobs. It is vital that the church becomes a place of hope – not glib, cliched words – but solid hope drawn from Scripture and made real in action. The church could become a real hub of the local community.

“But we have to rethink much of what we do and how we say things. The money has all but gone now and the church has to refocus on how it attracts people, what it says in plain English, how it presents itself and provides a warm welcome to those who haven’t a clue what Christianity is…. and all this on a very tight budget!”

He’s got to be right. And some of us could begin to apply some of his ideas right now, even before the pandemic is under control. 

As a direct consequence of lockdown, many of us have much more money in the bank than we bargained for. We could send a substantial sum to our local church, and some to an overseas charity, to make some of those ambitions come true. With time on our hands, we could earmark an hour or two for emailing or phoning those in our address book who live alone. We could buy extra supplies for a food bank on our next visit to the supermarket. 

And we must ask God to make our church more comprehensible to those who consider themselves outsiders. 

Source : Parish Pump