Last night was a momentous moment in the life of our church. After 133 days. and 19 weeks, we held a service in the building! It wasn’t quite like a usual service – as you can see from the picture there were a lot of empty seats due to Social Distancing measures (see if you can work out who is there from the back of their head!); everyone except me wore a mask for the entire service, and I was behind a Perspex screen for the protection of the congregation and so that people watching online could hear me clearly. We had to queue up, sign in, sanitise our hands and follow a one way system to a seat, and of course we couldn’t sing or share a microphone.
Now here’s the thing…it worked! God’s presence was felt; fellowship was shared across the 2m divide, and there was a real sense of joy at being able to be back together in this way. I want to take a moment to thank those who came to the service – Leadership Team, Staff, stewards and their significant others – who were willing to act as guinea pigs and trial the systems we have put in place to enable us to see if it could be done safely, and it could. We even managed to share communion.
For the congregation, the hardest part was getting used to wearing their masks, but a couple at least testified that after about 15 minutes they had stopped being conscious of the fact, and all were able to hear about the name of God “Jehovah Rophe” (the LORD who heals), and receive healing from Him during the sharing of the communion.
This is just the first tentative step back into the building and we are all aware of the possibility of further lockdowns, local or national, but we are grateful to God that He has shown us what can be done; over the next few weeks we will be exploring other possibilities around Small Groups and Evening Services so please keep your eyes and ears peeled for details of those, and how you can book to come along. Please do continue to pray for wisdom about our Children’s Work and whether we can reintroduce that too on a Sunday in the building – hopefully some sensible guidance will be coming soon.
So today I thank the 27 Masked Marvels for turning up, and the 16 who tuned in on Facebook. But most of all I thank God for the reminder that He never stops turning up, never stops loving us, and never stops working on our behalf – “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures for ever” (Psalm 107v1).