Will we or won’t we worship in church on Sunday?

The lock down is easing.
My Sundays are changing.
Fresh challenges arise.

No more breakfast at the communion table, then clearing and setting up the new way of celebrating – moving laptop, TV, chalice etc with the ipad on the music stand, at just the right angle and position.

As I contemplated the changes I became increasingly aware of the varying feelings of people. Some are eager to get back to normal – or at least as near as possible, whilst others are fearfully aware of the dangers. I fall somewhere in between but am gradually moving towards the fearful. I don’t want us to move too quickly. People are already mixing too close for comfort.

I spent most of last week preparing for two of my churches to open for public worship on Sunday. On Saturday evening I was too tired to do any proper reflecting upon it. I had done my best. I decided to wear a mask to give the communion wafers to people, and have read and re-read the guidelines.

Sunday morning arrived very early. I was awake shortly after 4am and probably didn’t get back to sleep before the alarm at 6.30am. Despite that I was still faffing about at 8.20am and hoping I had remembered everything. When I arrived at the church I then had to set up the communion things which included searching for them. I didn’t know where some of the things had been put and the lady who is responsible wasn’t in church. We managed – I poured the wine straight from the bottle and got a jug from the kitchen for the water. I was informed today that the lady had, very sensibly, taken the glass cruet set home to wash. She is very diligent in her duties.

We had a good turn out at both churches. The 9am one would have struggled to have accommodated many more than the 23 present. And the 10.30am service was also almost at capacity with 26. With one person/household/bubble per row and using alternate rows to ensure the 2 metre distance cuts down capacity. One advantage of having a small congregation. If everybody who normally attends had arrived we would have had a major problem. This is something we need to review and see if we can improve.

As it was all went well. It felt very strange having to sanitise hands once at the start of the communion prayers and then again just before distributing the wafers (with the lid having been kept in place during the prayers). But the really weird thing was wearing a face mask and giving the wafers at arms length. No singing, no hugging, no milling around sharing the Peace, but nevertheless I am glad we did it and some of us DID worship in church on Sunday.

The technology didn’t go exactly as planned – but I’m relieved the video of the youth group’s Zoom reflections worked.
The sung worship was non existent – but we had our organist to give some background music and one of the videos did work (more technical problems to be overcome).
The restrictions on movement were odd – BUT…. we DID worship in church on Sunday.

The worship of God by Christians will continue every Sunday whatever the conditions we find ourselves in. And God will continue to feed us and uphold us whatever the spiritual weather or the particular ‘sea’ we are swimming in.

When the going gets tough and we feel that we might start sinking, that’s when God upholds and sustains us. Sometimes it is OK to simply rest, relax, float on the surface, not trying to swim in the currents but let ourselves be carried along depending upon the Holy Spirit’s strong arms around us, supporting us when even floating seems impossible. And when we are rested, we can once again start swimming.

This thought came to me as I reflected on the dream before waking this morning (Monday). I was in the sea which was relatively calm but deep and I was struggling to swim. I didn’t have the strength and I feared I might drown. But someone came alongside me and re-assured me, upheld me, keeping my head above water.

Often our dreams have absolutely no meaning at all, but at other times they are messages from our subconscious or even God. I believe this dream was telling me that despite being very tired and with a huge amount of things to do, I should not worry (and I don’t think I am worrying, at least not consciously) but to continue resting in the strength provided by God.

“Come to me all who are heavy laden and burdened and I will give you rest.”

As I conclude writing this I was reminded of a piece of ‘art’ I did in a sketch book on the first day of a retreat in 2017. It was my first CARM retreat and I was looking forward to it. The location is a lovely retreat house called Noddfa on the North Wales coast.

Thoughts on first night/morning of a retreat by the sea.

When I looked at it though, there was only one line that I feel is relevant, so I spent 20 minutes before leading night prayer doing a quick re-working of it in my sketch book.

Here is Love vast as the ocean

I pray that you will know God holding you in the vastness of His love, sustaining you by the Holy Spirit.

Thank you for reading this. Please ‘like’ and ‘share’. I now have a proper website address: http://www.elizabethjonesdiary.com – I have taken the leap of upgrading to be rid of the adverts. I also submitted my book proposal to a publisher yesterday!!!! Will those of you who pray, please do so. Thank you.

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