The Ministry Assistant Writes

It has now been 18 months since all our lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic!  In reflecting upon the last year and a half, it seems to me that perhaps these last few months have been the hardest.

After stoically enduring the first wave of Covid, amidst the sadness and the fear, many people discovered hidden strengths and gifts, reaching out to help and support those in need.  As a congregation we found new ways to pray, worship and share with one another.  But after a brief glimpse of hope, last summer, that things might soon return to normal, we were once more plunged into ‘Lockdown’ and restrictions, followed by the ever increasing confusion as to what you can, and can’t do as restrictions are eased.  People have grown weary of the situation, and the danger is that we also grow weary of praying for, and encouraging one another.

In seeking some Word of Scripture to share with you all, I found myself facing a dilemma.  On the one hand, many people are enjoying a life that is slowly returning to normal and it would be appropriate to reflect upon words of joy, celebration and optimism!  But on the other hand, many are still suffering from illness, pain, loneliness and isolation, either because of their experiences of the last few months, or because they have yet to enjoy the benefit of lifted restrictions.  In Romans chapter 8, Paul seeks to encourage a people that have been enduring much suffering and persecution.  He concludes with these words:

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8: 37-39)

We can all draw strength from these words, because they tell us that no matter how difficult things might be, or how far from God we might feel, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.  His presence is with us always.  But we are also called upon to do our part towards strengthening ourselves and others, in the faith.  Again, Paul writes in his concluding instructions to the Thessalonians:

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18)

I had hoped that, by this time, it would be possible to announce that many of our church activities would soon be returning to normal.  Sadly that is not the case.  We thank God that those who are able to, can worship together once more in the church building, and even sing hymns; but we continue to hope and pray that by the end of the year we will also be able to meet for prayer, Bible Study and fellowship once more. In the meantime, let us remember these words from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”