Last week I had two conversations with different people longing for the day when they could hug people again. Now I know that some of you are less keen on the hug-‘em-to-death brigade, but others will be feeling the same. I’m not talking about hugging random strangers, that’s just weird, it’s wanting to be bring those who are closest to you – extended family and friends – closer. It’s a way some of us express our love, our care, our concern, our together-ness. And some miss that connectedness. It’s part of who they are and it feels like they’ve lost something.
The hope on the horizon is that one day things will change, and we will be able to march into church, hugging, linked together again like these Mancunians on VE Day all those years ago (don’t they look great!):
In the meantime, Zoom is fine. Well done to all of you who have climbed a particularly steep learning curve to be connected. But it’s second best. A good second best, but still second best.
We need more. We need to be connected, involved, to be able to get close.
Last autumn 2019 I led a research project with Elim churches scattered across the country. We asked people what helped them grow as Christians. (If you want to see me present some of that research, there are details below.) Many of them reflected on how belonging to a small midweek group had been a game-changer. One person said:
Where I’d say I grew most in discipleship, is… not in general fellowship , but having conversations with others, and I think that holds you accountable to others, as well, when you’re talking about where you are and your faith, or the struggles you’re going through. That prompts you, then, to examine yourself sometimes as well. I think, yes, you learn on a Sunday. But for me, in terms of developing my faith and my discipleship, it’s about developing relationships with others.
Another person said:
you’ve got people who are walking it with you, being real, doing life together. You have a common purpose, a balance of support but also a challenge because I would stay quite ‘cushiony’ wherever I was or wherever I find myself unless I have the sort of people around me that would kind of encourage me.
We need those connections. Sundays help, but smaller groups are the way things really change. And now even more so. Watching on your screens in a Sunday is fine. But there is more. Not more information, but greater connection. People who know you who will keep you walking faithfully.
Now is a good time to give it a go. Now is a time to allow yourself to connect a little more. Now is the time to walk alongside others. Now is the time to reach out.
Thursdays at 7.45pm is a time to log on: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/998857193?pwd=Ni9ZY2pSSWdQcWRvellMWXJYbG5rZz09
Meeting ID: 998 857 193
Join us! No hugs, but real connectedness.
This is a rather wonderful song by Martyn Joseph – ‘When we get through this’ – enjoy …
An interview with Emmanuel and Jumi. This is a chance for you to get to know their story a little better.
1. Our Gatherings
The link to this Sunday’s Gathering is here:
Meeting ID: 836 810 848
During these strange days, we want to stay growing as church. You might have friends and family who might be interested in staying in touch with us as a church. Ask them to fill out the form on our church website and we will add them to our mailing list.
This may be an easy time to invite friends and family to our Gatherings, after all they can be with us from the safety of their own homes. You have nothing to lose, they have a lot to gain!
Social Night: Friday 8th May at 7.30pm
Our host for the evening will be the wonderful Andrew Gordon!
You can come on your own of course or you might want to come as a team – there might be folks in church that you want to team up with but it’s also a chance to extend an invitation to those who don’t come to church with you regularly. If you know that you want to come with friends and family you can form a team of up to 4 screens. But you must register that team with Ian by Thursday evening at 10pm. He needs to know the names of who will be in your team (email addresses if you have them will be helpful) and the team captain’s mobile number. If you have no clever friends (!), come along and we will create teams on the night – no one will be alone. But please turn up on time!
Meeting ID: 891 0941 4539
Bring your own drinks and nibbles!
We have heard a rumour that the Queen might be speaking to the nation at 9pm. We will finish in time for that – on the basis that the rumours are true!
2. Prayer Together
For some time we have sensed that as a church we don’t pray enough together. This was also reinforced in the feedback we received during Neil’s ‘Listening Exercise’ earlier in the year.
Prayer really is part of our ‘core business’ as disciples of Jesus; it’s the life-blood of our relationship with God and one of the primary means by which God speaks to us, challenges us, encourages us and changes us. The current global pandemic has caused many of us to pray more than we did before. It has also accelerated some of the changes we were going to make as a leadership. As a result, we hope that some of things we put in place now will continue after the crisis is over; one of them is to pray more together.
Tuesday evenings 8-9pm starting on Tuesday 19 May and then fortnightly onwards.
From the comfort of your own home!
The link to each meeting is here:
Meeting ID: 823 8530 6337
And the link will be on our church’s events calendar.
We do hope you will join us to pray during this unprecedented time in history.
3. 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.
4. Hardship fund
We set aside some of church’s money so that we can respond to needs that we become aware of in church. You might want to give to that fund, if so, let Bev Walsh know, or you might be in need yourself. If you would need help, don’t be embarrassed to talk with Charlie Blundell. We want to help.
Links and Resources
1. Elim Leadership Summit
This is happening online on 12-13 May. You can hear about it and get the links here.
If you want to hear more about Neil’s research he will be ‘live’ at 2pm on Wednesday – but I guess it will be made available afterwards.
2. This week’ goose-bump moment
Many of you will have already seen this – but it’s definitely worth watching again! (And no doubt coming to a service near you soon!)
3. Knowing what’s under your feet
I found this fascinating… you might as well!