An amazing event happened last Sunday afternoon. At 4:00PM a large group of neighbours on our road all came out to drink tea together as a way of keeping in touch and encouraging each other as the Corona crisis crept across the country.
We all were very careful to maintain a good 2-meter social distance, the lack of traffic meant we could spread quite widely across the road without fear of being run over.
Even after living here for 2 years it was a wonderful occasion to meet neighbours we’d never spoken to before and find out about their lives and stories. From that meeting on the road, a community group has set up with folks checking in to ensure that our more vulnerable and any isolating neighbours are ok and well looked after. Offers of shopping and gardening and practical help are all now posted daily on our group.
Last night we were all reminded to be at our doors at 8:00 PM to applaud our amazing frontline medical heroes for their selfless service in this time of need.
I’m pleased to say that one of the organisers of this new community group is an RBC member – creating community is one of our values.
On Monday evening following the lock down announcement the group was buzzing with concerned messages – is everyone ok but also disappointment, we won’t be able to meet in the street again for some time. Encouragingly there were messages of hope. ‘let’s have a street party when this is all over’- and I think we will!
You may be aware of a quote attributed to CS Lewis that is doing the rounds on social media this week. The quote goes something like this.
Satan “I will cause anxiety, fear and panic. I will shut down schools, places of worship and sports events. I will cause economic turmoil.”
Jesus “I will bring together neighbours, restore the family unit, I will bring dinner back to the kitchen table. I will help people slow down their lives and appreciate what really matters. I will teach my children to rely on me and not the world. I will teach my children to trust me and not their money and material resources.” C. S. Lewis 1942
I’m always suspicious of these memes, especially as there are some questions and debate verifying whether CS Lewis did actually write this, nevertheless, it provides a beautiful depiction of Christian community being lived out practically and lovingly.
A year ago, at RBC we started talking about creating community as we realised how much people valued time being accepted, welcomed and spending time together. We were about to launch ‘connect’ community lunches in April- simple no fuss monthly Sunday lunches on site at the church building for anyone and everyone to join in, whether you’d been to the service or not.
What’s amazing is the absence and isolation of not meeting together, community is bizarrely being strengthened and I am so encouraged by the stories I’m hearing of groups meeting online, letters, phone calls, errands and help being given. I’ve seen the inside of more people’s homes now we are online calling that I ever did in the last two- and a-bit years.
Whoever wrote that quote, something positive is growing despite the anxiety, upset, confusion worry, loss and pain of coronavirus.
My mantra for this season is this:
‘Whether gathered, scattered or isolated, we are still church’
And I see little pockets of church are happening all over.
See you online on Sunday – and don’t forget the clocks go forward an hour