October Blog 2020
I wonder how hopeful you’re feeling at the moment?
I’ve spent some of the last half year, since lockdown started, feeling a bit hopeless at times to be honest with you. A grief at all the deaths, a frustration at times with the government, a pain at physical separation, with questions about church life and a sense of being confronted. Confronted with the reality of our fragility as humans, confronted with the inevitability of death and also with the melancholic realisation that ‘lockdown restrictions’ didn’t massively change my social life. Because if you haven’t had it, you don’t miss it when it’s taken away from you…!
Yet, we are called as Christians to be people of hope. Easy when ‘the world’s all as it should be’, to quote Matt Redman. But on ‘the road marked with suffering….’?
And hereby lies the tension.
We as Christians live in the world and therefore it affects us, yet we are to be ‘not of it’. Different, lights shining (or bravely flickering), signposts, salty witnesses to hope. Not the ‘vague wish’ sort of hope, the kind of “I hope there’s enough loo roll in the shops still” kind of hope. But the solid faith, the anchoring truth, the position of heart that looks for the sunshine even if it’s raining.
The hope in a person. The God of hope...
God began to remind me several weeks ago that He is the God of hope, He can fill us with hope and that we can abound with contagious hope to others. He began to prompt me to look with ‘hope goggles’, training my eyes with the question “where is the life?”
And I wanted to share with you a few stories of hope, to enliven your hearts, to show that there is hope, we have access to it (Him) and that He can turn what looks like mess into beautiful blessing. I have heard beautiful stories from churches of how restrictions on normal services have resulted in greater creativity and opportunities for fresh thinking. Here are a few:-
“growing a praying community online who love the daily prayers has been the biggest plus. There are about 15 people from different traditions and numbers have stayed up through the summer”…
“we feed between 70-100 people who are homeless, but instead of a sit-down meal we’ve gone takeaway!”
“one of the things that has been a big surprise has been song writing – 17 new worship songs written by different people and recorded”
“we’ve been doing a contemplative Facebook ‘walk’ on a Saturday morning, using a psalm and enabling those self isolating to see the local beauty with others”.
And our very own Helen (below), who started working as Hennie’s PA last month. She was supposed to be marrying Nathan on 25th April, witnessed by 250 people. Then lockdown happened. The ruling took numbers down to 5 people only and then no weddings were allowed. She speaks about a deep disappointment and sadness, but also starting to reflect and wrestle and came to conclude that the wedding day doesn’t define the marriage. They were able to be “officially married” on 24th April (one day before their original date!) with their housemates presiding in person and with over 1,500 views online! Helen’s honesty about the tension and wrestle of the process was very real, but also their hope in God and trust that He is able to do things where it seems to be humanly impossible! We wish them all the happiness as they will be legally wed by the time you read this (God-willing!).
So, may the God of hope fill you… that you may abound in hope.
That 2020 might really become one marked with perfect (2020) vision, to see as God sees and to reach out to others with that new clarity about what really matters.