Little by little things are going back to normal. Except it’s not really normal is it? On Saturday I was queuing down the street for fish and chips before heading out for a socially distanced meting with my parents in a nearby park. There was a guy behind me who clearly had spatial awareness problems. He was nowhere near his mark on the street. I did that most British of thing – first I casually glanced behind me at him, then I looked at him purposefully, but still he was getting closer and closer. So then I coughed in the hope that fear might bring distance! It didn’t. There was a guy who clearly hasn’t got the message about the new normal.
Things are opening up. This week we will find out what it will be like when the restaurants and pubs open. We might be able to get a little closer to each other, but we might have to leave our names and contact details, get used to using an app to place our orders. It’ll be us getting back to normal. Except it won’t be.
Last week I gave three 3 hours of my life that I’ll never get back again to two seminars around writing risk assessment policies for the time we can reopen church for worship. It was helpful in terms of me writing out the policies but reminded me that getting back to normal church has nothing to do with the building.
For us, is it normal church if you can’t sing? Or if you can’t see each other smile, because you have to wear masks? Or if you can’t greet one another properly? Or if you have to keep your distance? Or if you have to stay within your household ‘bubbles’? Or if those who need to keep shielding can’t come? Or if you can’t pray privately with each other?
You can be in church and be far from being church.
This week Steve will be preaching from Acts 7. It’s a long story about how God had always been at work away from the Temple. Stephen, the man who had been asked to oversee the distribution to the widows, had the opportunity to explain what was always true: God is no longer tied to a place, but is at work in some of the last places you might have expected.
During this time I am reminding myself to be less concerned about being in church and more about being church. You might have read about the church in Newquay that had a drive-in service this week. I’m pleased they were able to do it, and the media picked up the story, but I don’t think us sitting in a car park in our fiestas is what it means to be church.
We are not in normal days, but God is still at work. As we gather from our scattered places, God can still speak. As we call one another and catch up, we can minister to one another. As you remember to pray for the church, you continue to build the community. As you keep your promises, and are inspired by those of others, you create a new future that will last well beyond this new normal!
The commitments we made on Sunday
After the sermon on Sunday, we gave each other the chance to offer our own commitments to one another.
These are some of the things that we said. If we keep these promises, we will be building church.
- I commit to love you like my family – with no favourites, and no inner and outer circle.
- Dear Lord, I promise to pray more every day.
- I commit to being more alert to God`s leading and to listen well.
- I promise to love truth, love and mercy.
- I commit to seek to understand others point of view
- We promise to serve and support in any way you need us to.
- I promise to listen and help wherever I can.
- To see people past my personal prejudices and see them as a people worthy of the love and grace of Jesus.
- I promise to listen well and not be so sensitive
- Our promise is to love even when we don’t feel like it, to be humble and take criticism without offence. To hear the message behind the words and actions.
- I pray that I’ll always be full of the Spirit of God and walk in love towards one another.
- I will listen to you and not judge and will prayerfully support you with the leading of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.
- I promise to choose to listen to love and not fear.
- I promise to be alert to any injustice and seek to address it.
- I commit to always thinking the best of people to not make assumptions and be slow to take offence.
- I commit to speaking out when I see a problem or injustice and not just keeping quiet out of fear of making waves or because it doesn’t directly affect me.
- I commit to be open to change.
- I promise to pray for us all to know the power of the Spirit in our lives and we will all know God’s wisdom so we can all grow in faith and love
- To remember that Jesus died for everyone I come into contact with
- To be more open to other ideas and points of view
- I commit to asking the Lord to fill me with the Spirit, grant me wisdom and a kind heart and be a good member of the Elim family.
- To be gracious, Spirit-filled and Wise! what other goals do I need before these?
This week’s interview is with Jill. We talked together about prophecy, how she feels God speaking to her, and how that has made a difference in her own life.
1. Our Gatherings
The link to this Sunday’s Gathering is here:
Meeting ID: 836 810 848
This week we have 2 prayer meetings during the week:
On Wednesday between 1-2pm we offer prayer ministry.
You may feel anxious and just need someone to pray for God’s peace over you. You may be ill or be concerned about someone who is sick; we can pray with you for God’s healing. You may feel low or confused; we can pray with you to know God’s joy and guidance in these strange days. Whatever your reason, we would love to pray with you and for you.
On Friday 10.30-12.00 there is a prayer meeting that doesn’t need Zoom! We use Whatsapp and it works great. If you want more information contact Corinne Baines or Gill Oldham or Neil and they’ll make sure you are able to connect.
Christians have known for centuries that one of the main ways to keep growing as a Jesus-follower is to commit to being part of a small group. They create contexts where we can change. Many of you are already part of these groups, but if you aren’t, this week is a great time to begin.
On Thursday at 7.45pm Neil will be leading an evening for those in groups, and those who are thinking about it: Small Groups that Work: How to get the best from One Another. Come along and discover what could be possible.
The link is here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/998857193
Meeting ID: 998 857 193
From 9 July there will be a new group on Thursdays – Building Foundations. It’s important that you feel confident in knowing how to understand and explain the Christian faith to others. But equally, it is vital that you grow in knowing how to pray and to hear from God. This course will help you do both. You might have been a Christian for years, but deep down you are concerned that there are things you still haven’t got your head around. Or you might be fairly new on this road. This course is for you. Led by Charlie, it will explore all that is involved in ensuring that your life as a follower of Jesus is based on really strong foundations. Let us know if you would be interesting in joining that group.
2. Stay Connected
‘Virtual Coffee Morning’ – Wednesday 10.30-11.30am
Since closing we’ve missed chatting to people and we know some of you have missed popping in for a brew and a catch up too. So, whilst it’s not as good as the real thing, we thought we would try meeting up online instead. So, grab yourself a brew and join us. There may even be games and live music!
There are hundreds of thousands of people who are really glad that they joined an Alpha Course. It gave them a chance to understand the person and teaching of Jesus in a relaxed and warm atmosphere. We have started ‘The Virtual Vine Alpha Course’ on Wednesdays 2.30-4pm
The Alpha Course is a great opportunity to explore the bigger questions of life and faith such as ‘Is there more than this?’, ‘Who is Jesus?’ and ‘Does God guide us?’. No question is ‘out of bounds’ and everyone is welcome to join us without pressure.
If in doubt
All the links to the meetings are in ChurchSuite and on the ‘Calendar’ section of our church website: http://www.salfordelimchurch.org/events/
4. You’re not alone
If you need prayer, or need to talk, don’t hesitate to contact folks in your WhatsApp group, or Neil – his number is 07771 558058.
Links and Resources
1. Children’s Resources
Morag and Ian have out together a couple of films for children at different ages. Having said that, whatever your age you might want to take a look!
But if you have children that fall into these groups, I know that they will really value your feedback.
You can watch them here: http://www.salfordelimchurch.org/kids-resources-acts-68-81/
2. This made me remember and smile
If you were with us at the Weekend away at Cefn Lea, you might remember the water chute! I saw this and it made me smile – we have a long way to go to be as good as these guys: https://www.facebook.com/cvmNorth/videos/650535282198585/UzpfSTU4MjgxNTM3MzoxMDE2Mzc0OTU0MjA2NTM3NA/
3. This comment made me laugh
I was chatting to someone in church and asking how they were. Their answer was ‘I am wishing I’d married a hairdresser!’.
I’m guessing they are not the only ones. If only we had known….