You are here18th June 2020

18th June 2020

By Ian Cardinal - Posted on 18 June 2020

Living discipleship special Covid 19 module X (1), Thought for the Day.


Recently, our Curate Alison chose for Pentecost (when I started writing this thought), the following Collect:

Holy Spirit, sent by the Father,

Ignite in us your Holy Fire,

Strengthen your children with the gift of Faith,

Revive your church with the breath of Love,

And renew the face of the earth,

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This really (again) ties in with my study course, where we have been considering Psalm 137 (By the rivers of Babylon) as an example of the challenge facing God's people in being able to worship in a foreign place, away from Jerusalem. This is exactly where all of us are today. We are in the foreign land of finding other ways of worshipping without physical access to our own Jerusalem’s, be that St Saviour, St Michael and St Wulfad, or any of the church. And I have to tell you that nobody is finding having to use Zoom, or Skype, or conference calls, to worship with old friends, more foreign than I am.

But thankfully, Covid 19 has dragged me kicking and screaming into the new "Tech" age, and I am quickly learning to appreciate the possibilities it offers to establish close contact on a one-to-one basis, and joint worship opportunities, with people who may have needed to remain in their homes, or for those who either used to attend church when they were able, or who have not yet found the wonderful healing of linking with others on the way of the Lord.

Such people remind me that it came as quite a surprise when I joined our after-school Christian based club "Adventurers" shortly after it opened, to find that our members were not just the 2nd generation of the family to have no history of attending church, but invariably, they were at least the 3rd generation. For 40 or 50 years, nobody in their family had regular experience of going into a church building, other than for weddings or funerals.

At best, this means there has been a vast reservoir of "could be" Christian members out there, with absolutely no idea of what church is, how it functions, what its beliefs are, or what the various parts of the building represent or are for. Neither do they know what various people do, or why they wear "different" clothes, and most importantly, what benefits being a member of a church can give in this, meaning hungry, relationship hungry, stability hungry, world.

At worst, some of these people have grown up with negative impressions, with myths and misunderstandings that have put them off ever entering a church. I offer an example from another aspect of my own life, of things that could be simply explained, that I didn't understand.

Many of you know that I'm daft about little steam railways, and over the years of visits and watching videos, and working as a volunteer on 3 of them, I have acquired a smattering of knowledge about them and how they work. As in my church life, I came from a family who grew up knowing about them, and regularly using at least their standard gauge counterparts. And in spite of this, there are still things that this relative insider doesn't know.

One thing I've never understood is the purpose of the fascinatingly named "Horn guides". They remain as big a mystery to me as the “offside” rule.

More relative to my point, is the sign I've seen in various places on some railways I’ve visited, shown either as a group of small light bulbs in a horseshoe, or a black U, on a white board. This week, watching one railway manager on his weekly lockdown walkabout on you Tube, I was enlightenment. Apparently it informs the engine driver that the signal box, road crossing, or wayside Halt, that they are approaching, is unmanned. Simple, but intriguing or confusing, if you are not in the know.

Now this is only of passing significance to the lives of relatively few of us, but just consider what a difference some equally easily explained confusion or misconception could make, to a person who doesn't know about us church members, and the building that is our meeting place. It could exclude them from the enormous benefits they might receive by joining an active church.

Numerical evidence shows that for 70+ years, we who call ourselves “The Church” have not appealed to a growing number of our fellow beings. This enforced usage, and in my case introduction to, such things as conference calling, Skype, and Zoom, or simply using an extended telephone call to engage in some pastoral caring, or exploratory evangelism, holds such a promise for the future. The promise for us to make contact with all those people who are searching for something spiritual, but who for whatever reason, hadn't considered the Christian church.

We have been shown a new way to go out in the Fathers Holy Spirit, to ignite those who haven't thought of the church as a place to receive comfort and guidance, or meaning for existence, and a place to start the new relationships to help them on The Way. We mustgo, and make them fellow disciples.