Two years ago we began a new season of openness to God and to others with social activities in and around the village. We had groups as big as 15 on our 'Walk, Talk & Coffee' mornings, and people of all ages at Table Tennis club in the chapel on Sunday afternoons. Our quiz night saw the church packed with enthusiastic participants. We were delighted to welcome the wider Bovingdon community to these events and to Sunday services and midweek groups such as Coffee Morning and Youth Group. However, what 'walking together' looks like for our church family, friends and neighbours has changed dramatically since the Coronavirus pandemic struck.
Since the end of March 2020, we have held just two services inside our church building. Churches, like other organisations, have generally had to cease in-person meetings to protect the health of the vulnerable. However, we have found ways of adapting and new ways of supporting one another through these anxious times. We join together to worship God via video-conferencing. We have held prayer meetings, church business meetings, coffee mornings, social events and even our annual quiz online. We've got a weekly newsletter that gets delivered to the folk who can't access the internet. We've painted pebbles and hidden them around the village for schoolchildren to discover during the school holidays. And at Christmas we made 650 Make-a-Christingle at Home Kits and gave them away to the children at Bovingdon Primary Academy and Bovingdon Pre-School, and then to other friends and neighbours, brightening up their Christmas (and raising £300 for The Children's Society).
At our last in-person Coffee Morning in March 2020, we were brainstorming ideas of 'projects' to work on if and when we were locked down or self-isolating at home. Here's what we came up with:-
· Reading - we noted that library members are allowed up to 30 books out at any one time!
· Write your memoirs / family history / village history.
· Organise your photos into albums or take the time to compile a book of photos for your family - with captions / dates / names etc. If you find any photos which show Bovingdon village life in days gone by put them to one side to show the local history group.
· Knit / crochet / paint / draw / do home crafts and hobbies.
· Do jigsaws / puzzle books.
· Phone someone, or try doing a video call (like Skype / What'sApp?).
· Get into the garden and keep on top of the weeding and watering.
· Try speaking to God - and even spend a few minutes in quiet each day waiting for God to speak to you.
· Listen to Sunday Worship on BBC Radio 4. Or visit a church website to find out about virtual worship services locally - or anywhere in the world!
· If you have a Bible, why not take it off the shelf, dust it down, and see what food for thought you might find there, what promises to give you hope?
'He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.' (Psalm 91 v 4)
‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem ... how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings...' (Matthew 23 v 37)All of us are living with uncertainty and anxiety for ourselves and for our loved ones. However, there is one thing we can rely on utterly - God's faithfulness and compassion towards us, like a brooding mother hen protecting her chicks. God is not distant, even in the hardest of times, and we are not alone. Nothing can separate us from God's love. So, church members will continue to love and serve Jesus whether they are able to meet in person or not, and we continue to pray for - and look for creative ways to show care for - our neighbours even while we are confined to our homes. Do email or phone me if you'd like to chat, or need some help.