Oh the irony.
In 2010, after a long wrangle with God (I’d like to say it resembled Jacob’s struggle in the desert when he wrestled with God. I’d be fibbing – it wasn’t nearly as dignified as that) – we left a church.
We assumed – naturally, that God would place us in another local fellowship – but after much visiting, and yet more wrangling, it became clear this was not His plan.
So we spent the next 7 years (Yes, 7) doing church somewhat sporadically online,and with small groups we got connected to online that were more local. I started a few things, led one or two, got invited to share here and there. None of it was bad, there was much good that came out of it – but it wasn’t consistent fellowship.
In 2017 we finally found, and felt able to join, a local church in our new hometown in Norfolk. Happy days.
Then last year through my husband’s work we found ourselves moved to Plymouth. It was a major upheaval emotionally but we knew God’s hand was on it, and that gave us comfort and courage.
We found another GREAT church. (They might read this ;)) and settled in. All going swimmingly. The more I settled in to the church, the less inclined I was to share online and even stopped writing for the most part. There was plenty to get my teeth into in the “real” world.
Then BANG. Coronavirus hits.
And I find myself in (online) meetings discussing the way forward for church in a world where at least for the moment, we are unable to meet in person.
The news gets ever more distressing each day and the Government measures get more and more restrictive as we fight to keep things manageable and preserve the lives of those most vulnerable.
With the official advice being not to meet in groups most churches, ours included have made the decision to stop all face to face meetings. To the casual observer, that’s the end of church meetings.
Yet, I’m encouraged.
Because the church is still very much alive.What’s more, the church will emerge stronger. Throughout history and across the world, whenever the church faces difficulty, we flourish.
Suddenly facebook groups and Zoom meetings are where the church is gathering. Whatsapp and Google hangouts are the new school halls and coffee shops. Prayer meetings and online worship is suddenly everywhere I look.
Churches across the world are re-imagining what it looks like to build community and how to reach out with practical help to those who are undoubtedly going to need it in the months to come.
So watch this space. And your facebook feed. Church is happening close to you. In your front room in fact – if you choose to join in.
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” – Jesus