It is so hard to make plans at present. We have a Government road map but it’s liable to alteration. We have hopes to get back to normal but similar hopes have been dashed previously. For those of us in leadership, those of us in business, those of us wanting to invest in projects and people and future prospects, it’s so hard to make decisions. The risks are high, the outcomes unclear. What can we do?
Having had more than a year in post as vicar of Holmes Chapel, I’m naturally feeling ready to encourage new initiative and direction. Now should be the time to make new plans. But like many whose activities are compromised by social distancing and virus limiting measures, we are frustrated in moving things forward.
At the Annual Meeting I spoke of the need to be forward thinking as we look towards getting back to a new normal. We mustn’t assume that things will return to the position of 18 months ago. Time has passed and we have got used to a new style, a new time, an informal style at 10.30. With our later-morning Sunday service on Zoom, many have enjoyed the mix of classic hymns and genuinely contemporary songs, brief interviews, and all-age participation. To lose that momentum would be felt as a setback by lots of people, and particularly in the younger generations where we need to add to our numbers most urgently. We won’t restart the later morning service in church until we can sing and enjoy one another’s company. It’s likely to be at least after the replacement organ is installed, and if the authorities’ covid-19 limitations continue, it could be later. And we need to make some plans.
The 9am Sunday Service has become, out of necessity, the main focus of our worship in church. We have been restricted in time and style, but it has been good to have communion services and more hymns than we used to at 8.30am. This earlier service can become the home of those of us who value weekly holy communion, who appreciate classic hymns and prayerbook-inspired CofE traditions. We have a classic church building with a warm cosy feel, and it is just the place to grow a lively traditional service with a warm welcoming fellowship.
For those who prefer a quieter shorter communion service, at a comfortable mid-morning time, there will still be the Wednesday Midweek Communion at 10.30.
The new normal will not be so different from the old normal. But it must be a bit different, because we as individuals are different and we as a church are different. Those being led by the Spirit of Jesus cannot remain the same. The Holy Spirit warms our hearts to His Word. He changes our attitudes and we desire more and more to please God. He moulds our hopes and our expectations in ways which refresh our soul and deepen our joy and focus our witness in Jesus’ name.
It is not quite time to make plans, although I hope to chat with group leaders and activity leaders over the Summer. It is time to acknowledge that the Lord has plans and purposes for his people. And to seek to walk with him.
Canon Rob McLaren, Vicar