This, I think, is my last blog post for the period of this lockdown – I am very happy to pass the baton on to others. So, what have I been learning? I think it is largely about the importance of disciplines. Some of those disciplines have been in place for a long time in my life, especially that daily discipline of Bible Study and Prayer with a structure that keeps me on track and stops me either trying to pray for too much or too little. Alongside that reading and praying, I have always tried to have a serious Christian book on the go and try to read daily, so that I am always learning. As I mentioned before, I heartily recommend Emmanuel Katambole’s Born from Lament, which was the book I was reading when the lockdown began. It is destined to become a classic of Christian literature. Some new disciplines have also proved really valuable, not least praying with others via Zoom at 9 am each weekday morning. It is some years since I have been in the sort of ministry where I have had a team who naturally gathered for daily prayer at a particular time, so that has been a good discipline, being encouraged in prayer by others, setting a clear start to the day around the 9 am start, which is good for those who are not naturally morning people! We have discovered Zoom and Hangouts over the past three and a half weeks – not places this very untech-y Vicar has ever been to before! Hangouts has meant that we have probably seen our family more than we normally do – the stream of chat is fairly constant! It has been good also to go for a walk every day – whilst I have always tried to walk and avoid the car as much as possible, having the space for a daily walk has been a good reminder of the need to stay as fit as possible – even if we have discovered just how steep the hill is that we have come to live on top of. Telephoning friends and some of our retired Mission Partners who served alongside us in Africa has been very encouraging – I don’t really like the telephone, but have done my best to overcome my annoyance with it, and it has been so warming to hear from others whose faith is an inspiration, including some who have faced far harder situations than this lockdown. Writing things down has been helpful to fix in my mind what God may be saying to me through his Word at this time; trying to explain it for others helps me to understand it more and to make it my own – sorry if my ramblings are still too complex for you! But we can all make use of the spiritual discipline of ‘journaling,’ whether we share that with others or keep it distinctly private. So do keep the disciplines going, and do share what God is saying to you with others so as to keep up the spirit of encouragement through this time. Why not contribute to the Church Blog – via Shawn, of course, and let us keep finding ways of growing together in Christ through this time.
God of glory, by the raising of your Son you have broken the chains of death and hell: fill your Church with faith and hope; for a new day has dawned and the way to life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen