Well, that was an interesting week, wasn’t it? Buildings may be closed, but Church is still open, because as Adrian Plass told us in his book, “The Church is the people, not the buildings.” Never has that been truer than now – and already we are discovering new ways of “gathering” together even when we are scattered by regulations put in place to protect us and others against coronavirus. Wednesday saw our first live-streamed prayer gathering, which apart from some apparent lighting issues around my head seemed to go very well – and the interesting thing is that during that “meeting” 504 people were reached, and 362 people engaged with it. And usually we only get 20-30 for a “live” prayer meeting! Yesterday’s service has so far reached 430 people and has had 736 engagements. Our building seats around 250
I find this fascinating and am really interested to see if this is a blip caused by unprecedented circumstances, or if the numbers will hold up and even grow the longer we are in this situation. And then on a smaller level we have WhatsApp groups springing up, Zoom conference groups, Facebook Messenger groups, more texting, emails and phone calls, and through these an incredibly strong sense of belonging together. Could it be that God is birthing something new in the midst of this pandemic?
What is clear is that the Gospel is reaching more people in more varied ways than it has done before. And now we have learned, and are still learning, the benefits of live-streaming and all the other technology, we can apply what we have learned to our Church and community when things return to “normal,” whenever and whatever that might be. And although the way the message is being shared is changing, the message itself stays exactly the same as it has for over 2,000 years – that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3v16)
At a time when there is so much emphasis on death, be encouraged by the promise found in John’s Gospel and indeed throughout the Bible, that our God, the One Who calls Himself “I am” (Exodus 3v14), is greater than death, has defeated death through the resurrection of Jesus, and Whose desire it is is for you and I to “have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10v10). In these days of uncertainty and unpredictability, remember you are loved by God, that He is all about life, and that He is on your side. Things around us may change, but He does not. Let’s thank Him for that and trust Him to lead us out into the new life that is coming.