It is so good to see people able to come back to church for a service and feel safe when they know they can be assured we continue to follow procedures as required. And there is more good news as lockdown eases once more - WE CAN NOW SING!
But you know we have much more to look forward to. We are inviting the Romanian Orthodox community to base themselves at the Church from September onwards. Their priests will share the building rather like the free church from Cornerstone did prior to Covid. This is an exciting venture in ecumenism and no doubt they will bring blessings to us. In other news a new Italian assistant is coming to us in September. He is called Giovanni Bernadini and he is training in Rome for the Waldensian church - the Italian protestant church. He is 28 and very enthusiastic. Another adventure for us is the opportunity to enter into a partnership with Edinburgh Napier University to support our work with the Department of Student Wellbeing and the Chaplaincy team. The chaplaincy team will use our building for student services, counselling and meetings. In the next few weeks we will reshape the children's ministry with the help of the national youth advisor, and in terms of our work with older people, we are now invited by the care homes to resume our services at the start of September.
I know it has been a deeply frustrating time for people at many levels: we have lived with separation, isolation, anxiety and a sense of pessimism, but there are signs of new life and hope emerging as the summer progresses. As we start to see restrictions lifted, which have been in place for 16 months, there will be those among us who will welcome this move and others who won’t. This is a landscape which we will need to live well together as we all make individual choices. What we are not doing is being released to ‘go back’ to what used to be the norm; that is no longer the present and we should not think that we can simply pick up where we left off. Instead, I hope we will commit ourselves to shaping a new future; one which recognises the pain and brokenness that some are feeling, one which respects the exhaustion many are experiencing, one which acknowledges the fear and anxiety in our communities, and one which also sees the joy of those are able to live without restriction once again. Just as at the start of lockdown many people immediately thought of neighbours and those who are vulnerable and sought to offer support, so too we now need to be paying great attention to all those around us with various vulnerabilities and fears, not least in our worshipping communities and local contexts. What does it mean for us to be the body of Christ as we live the weeks ahead? Furthermore, as we saw at the beginning of lockdown, in March 2020, people respond in different ways due to their circumstances, personalities and experiences. There will be those who are longing simply to live as before with no physical distancing or face coverings and who will delight at being in a crowd once again. There will also be those who are anxious, not least those who are still not fully vaccinated, and those with particular personal and family health situations. Whilst it is true that going forward we need to enable one another to live with the realities of a virus which is not going to suddenly disappear, and not be driven by fear, we do also need to be sensible, cautious and compassionate as we continue to live this next season one step at a time. This is the ‘story’ into which we are emerging, and every thread of it is a significant one. Jesus’ focus was always on God and the Kingdom, and his activity rooted in love and prayer. This is a good model for us right now, as we discern our new normal.
With love and blessings,
The Link is a monthly publication by members and staff of Morningside United Church.