The View from the Vicarage: A New Kind of Community

Today I am reflecting on where we have come in one week, last Tuesday an anouncement was made to close our church builings for public worship in order that we take seriously HM Government’s advice on social distancing. In the wider sphere of our lives we have seen people working from home, schools closed and pubs and restaurants told to close their doors. We have also seen panic buying on a significant scale.

A week has passed and the fever in the supermarket seems to subsiding, there are toilet rolls, bread and even baked beans for sale again, deliveries are coming in daily and people are thinking of one another after the panic has subsided. While our pubs and reastaurants are closed and McDonalds are cooking up their last Big Macs as we speak I have seen something quite incredible happening on social media and in the streets of our communities. One member of our community put up a self isolating note on the door  and the response was a younger neighbour leaving a tin of soup and a loaf of bread for them – there are so many more stories like this. I have had countless offers of support for vulnerable communtiy members and we are linking up people in wonderful acts of community kindness.

And then there is our church community, morning and evening prayer has been done virtually, with some joining me that have never attended traditional church. Then the dawn of Mothering Sunday came and yet we had many of our congregation members either live online with us or watching our streamed services later in the day. A whole group of them then had “virtual” tea and coffee after the service messaging one another as a group – and there were no complaints about the biscuits! Today has seen our parishes first ever ‘virtual’ tea party.

I am so proud of the response of our church and so priveleged to be a part of it. It has been my experience that we have seen a surge in community here, a real love and care for the other as well as building up of the church. A week ago I did not know what to expect but within only 7 days we are already experiencing a new radical form of church that follows Jesus, that worships together, cares for one another and serves the community in Christ’s name.

We are reminded in Matthew Chapter 18 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Jesus is with us in our dispersed prayers for we are together in him, Jesus is with us in SMS groups and Messenger conversations, he is with us on WhatsApp.  Praise the Lord!

So as always I leave you with a hymn, one that truly speaks of what Christian community is, means and does at is very best – even in the online virtual world.

Brother, sister, let me serve you; let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey, and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christlight for you in the nighttime of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.

I wil! weep when you are weeping; when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow, till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven, we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you; let me be as Christ to you;
pray that l may have the grace to let you be my servant too. *

Yours in the service of Christ

David, your Vicar and your friend.

*Gillard, Richard (1953-) © Integrity Music, Inc.

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