A WORD FROM MICHAEL…
Things have changed a lot recently. This overwhelmingly understatement barely begins to capture the profound changes we have observed around the world, and experienced ourselves, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Entire countries, including our own, have shut their borders, and imposed dramatic restrictions on the movement and association of their citizens, with a view to curbing the rate of transmission of the virus. After much deliberation, and taking the best information into account, the Blackwood Uniting Church Council has made the difficult decision to suspend, until further notice, a host of programs, including community classes, Mainly Music and the Roundabout Playgroup. We have advised those members of clusters and other groups that it will be necessary, if they choose to continue to meet, to do so in ways that minimise the risk of transmission. We have decided to suspend, until further notice, in-person attendance at worship. From this Sunday, we will continue to worship by watching online pre-recorded services of worship, or through watching DVD recordings of the same (details of this are provided separately in this newsletter).
So many changes, both in our world and in our church, and so quickly.
We do not know how long these changed circumstances will be in place.
We do not know what further changes are coming.
In this ever-changing environment, we may be forgiven if we are feeling, either periodically or much of the time, overwhelmed by the speed of change, and overwhelmed by the uncertainty of it all.
We feel overwhelmed…because we are human; humans of flesh and blood, thoughts and feelings, strengths and frailties, courage and fears. Being human has its upsides and downsides. One very important upside at this time of change and uncertainty is our human capacity to respond, rather than to merely react reflexively out of fear or self-interest.
At this time, I would encourage you (as I hope you will encourage me) to seek that place of ‘stillness’ in the midst of the apparent mayhem around you. That place of stillness is there, sometimes hiding in plain sight, sometimes revealing itself as we make time to sit in silence or prayer, to read the scriptures, to walk in nature, to reach out in love to someone in need. In that stillness we will discover that we do have a choice as to how to respond to this strange situation.
We can choose not to succumb to fear.
We can choose not to be consumed by our own worries, but instead to consider others.
We can choose lightness and humour over grim despondency.
We can choose to stay connected with others, as well as to stay safe.
We can choose to remain a community of compassion and connection.
In closing, two final requests. First, be patient with those exercising leadership roles within the church. We are trying, as best we can, to respond to a dynamic situation. This response amounts to a work-in-progress, subject to change. Second, continue to think and exercise your creativity about how we can remain a vibrant, connected community at this time. Share your thoughts with us!
Yours in Christ.