“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” Corinthians 5: 17-19
“Tonight before falling asleep
think about when we will return to the street.
When we hug again,
when all the shopping together will seem like a party.
Let’s think about when the coffees will return to the bar,
the small talk, the photos close to each other.
We think about when it will be all a memory
but normality will seem an unexpected and beautiful gift.
We will love everything that has so far seemed futile to us.
Every second will be precious.
Swims at the sea, the sun until late,
sunsets, toasts, laughter.
We will go back to laughing together.
Strength and courage.”
God calls us to the ministry of reconciliation. This week we have been unpacking what this might mean for our relationship with creation, and asking ‘what does right relationship with the world and with each other look like?’
Given the unprecedented times in which we currently live, as the Coronavirus pandemic changes the shape of global society, it is also important for us to consider: what might this look like for us now?
This week, we had planned on inviting you to celebrate by organising a community meal. While this is something we would love you to consider doing in the future, right now, we are having to think of new ways of doing community.
So instead, this Celebration Sunday, we are inviting you to:
Arrange an online community gathering
I’ve found the use of the phrase ‘social distancing’ tricky. In fact, I’ve been preferring to use the phrase ‘physical distancing’. Because despite the need to reduce all but essential physical contact with each other in order to slow the spread of the virus, it is now more important than ever that we remain connected. Right now, whilst we may be physically distant from one another, we need to make sure we are not socially distant from each other.
Life isn’t going to be normal for a while. We’re not able to go to connect with our friends in person. We’re not able to attend church, and share time with our families of faith in the same way. Life has changed significantly, and this is going to be a hard and painful adjustment for so many.
But we can still remain social, and keep our communities flourishing. Technology is such a blessing to us, and is going to be crucial to the way we maintain our relationships with each other. It might enable us to keep some relative normality during what will be a rather abnormal next few weeks and months.
During my first week of physical distancing, I phoned or video called more people than I would normally do in a whole month. I caught up with old friends. I had video chats with groups of friends who, in the past, we would have struggled to get in the same room. My church small group met and had our usual Thursday night meeting using Zoom. I managed to join in virtually with the postgraduate group I was involved with at my old church (a group I hadn’t been able to attend since I moved away from Oxford in August). And my choir met over video chat to discuss new ways of keeping our group going virtually.
And whilst we long for the days when we will once again be in the streets, when we will be able to embrace our friends and family once more, and when we will be able to break bread with our congregations, right now is an opportunity to be creative, and find new ways of connecting together.
We were designed to be in relationships with each other. The vision of reconciliation we have explored this week shows that ultimately, being reconciled to God, one another and the earth is the ultimate goal for creation. So whilst we are physically distant from one another, let’s take this time to reach out. Because now more than ever we need each other.
Our Celebration Sunday reflections are written by Josie Horton. Josie is the intern for The Joint Public Issues Team. This is her first Living Lent. She will be committing to giving up single-use plastics.