Volume 1 | Issue 7 16 May 2020
“Hope is definitely not
the same thing as
optimism. It is not the
something will turn out
well, but the certainty
that something makes
sense, regardless of
how it turns out.”
Vaclav Havel in
Disturbing the Peace
Experience from the front line
Churches in the FCC network are doing some extra-ordinary things in ordinary ways. We keep hearing about the “war” against the virus. Chris Ibbs shares from the “front line” in Riddings and Selston – two villages in Nottinghamshire.
We keep hearing that we’re living in “unprecedented times” and that we may have to live in a “new norm” for the foreseeable future. It is true that we definitely did not see this pandemic coming and in many ways life has changed.
Ironically in the weeks just before things moved so dramatically our services at Selston were themed around the book of James, with one of our latest teachings being “you do not know what will happen tomorrow” (James 4:13- 17).
The church buildings have had to close, with services, events and meeting face to face not being an option right now. So, like so many, we in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, have had to learn and adapt very quickly. Sunday communion and worship is now online and delivered by video to individuals and homes. Teaching and encouragement happen by letter, WhatsApp and phone calls. Meetings take place on Skype and Zoom.
Interestingly, like so many other churches, we’re discovering that we actually have a wider reach right. Where on a regular Sunday people attending and being involved in worship is limited by geography and mobility, the services and teachings are being shared literally across the world, directly to homes and all who want to receive – Luke 1:37 brings us great hope in this time.
Early on in the lockdown someone said to me that they felt “God had been preparing us for this for the last three years”. Whilst God has not planned and sent COVID-19 or is he using it as judgement, that he can work through this time and draw many closer to his love and grace.
For three years at Riddings and seven years at Selston we have been offering Foodbank provision to those in need. Because of this we have food, contacts, experience and links to doctors, social workers, support groups and local authorities. When lockdown went into operation and the need for physical support and help increased dramatically, our volunteers were ready to hit the ground running on day one.
Over the last seven weeks where normally the Riddings church usually would have given food to around 30 families, the team have stepped up and to date over 20,000 meals have been given out to those currently requiring help.
This is a truly a strange time, with many moments of anxiety, fear and doubt. But God still offers us hope, joy and times of great faith and miraculous provision. I hear of people praying more than ever, leaning daily on God and drawing closer to him than ever before. I pray that we continue to love and serve as we have been called (Matthew 25:35-40) both spiritually and practically. And that we continue to know God’s protection, peace and provision.
Martin Robinson in conversation with Alan Roxburgh
A few days ago, Martin and Alan spent just under 15 minutes reflecting on the “what next?” of the corona virus situation under the title “From Exile to Earthquake: Metaphors for Mission in a post-pandemic world.” We wanted to look at the idea of Exile, which has been quite widely used to describe our situation in a post Christian world. From our perspective Exile is less useful as a metaphor than the idea of an earthquake. We used the illustration of the earthquake in Philippi as a helpful way of understanding the times in which we now live. Click on the link below to catch the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSUTCc7lIfM
Acting in the New Normal
One of ForMission’s former students, who is now part of the regional team for the Baptists in the South West, has reflected on how she is acting positively in these difficult times. She has given me permission to share her thoughts and actions with you.
The Open Door of Lockdown?
Regional Minister Lindsay Caplen shares how lockdown has created an ‘open door’ in her neighbourhood these past few weeks.
My kitchen has smelt particularly aromatic recently as I have, amongst other things, attempted to bake bread, hot cross buns and marmite biscuits (mmmmm.) The first two have required yeast to make them rise. Yeast is incredible stuff. A small amount kneaded into the dough doubles or triples its’ size. Watching it grow is pretty exciting!
My original plans for Spring did not involve much baking. Then Covid-19 took hold and, although life is still very full, it is also very different. Much of my life is lived on-line via Zoom and MS Teams meetings. However, I have a strong sense that God is giving me this opportunity to ‘do life’ alongside my neighbours, both blessing and being blessed by them!
At the start of this year, my husband Andrew and I held a party for the people in our part of our street. It was a great evening and there was a sense that God was up to something. We made various plans to follow up with another event and then ‘lockdown’ happened!
But what does it mean for us to be the church here in our street at this time?
On Easter morning, I popped a card (with email address) through each letter- box. I also delivered Easter eggs to every home. On my rounds I saw Jenny in her garden – she had been at our party. Jenny mentioned something about lunch, and I explained that I’d been dim (not uncommon), left the chicken out of the fridge overnight and it had ‘gone off’. By the time I returned home, there were two chicken dinners in takeaway boxes on our doorstep! Wow! Jenny blessed us so much on Easter Day!
I had several emails over the following days saying how people had been surprised and thrilled by the Easter eggs. One lady said that it had brought tears to her eyes. It was a small gesture and yet had made so much difference – perhaps much more so at this time than usual?!
Also, over the past couple of months I have painted pebbles with bumble bees, ladybirds, flowers and rainbows. On each pebble I have also put a word of encouragement such as ‘peace’ or ‘hope.’ (I write my house-number of the back of each one.) I am only half-way through our street but, little by little, everyone is receiving a pebble. People seem to really like them!
On Thursdays, like many of you, my neighbours and I go outside/lean out of our windows and clap for our key-workers. Once the applause is over, I have the joy of chatting to my closest neighbours. 8.05pm Thursday evening has become a precious time. My neighbours have laughed and cried from their windows. I have laughed and cried from the pavement. The Holy Spirit has clearly gone ahead and is at work in people’s lives. As I wander back each week to my house, I wonder……’God what are you doing?’
Then I remember that I don’t need to know what God is doing – my job is to knead the dough and let God provide the increase. My job is to be the church and to let God be God.
As Baptists, we believe passionately in the priesthood of all believers. We also believe that every believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit. It ‘blows my mind’ when I think about how the same Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in you and me calling us to be the church, wherever we are. It should ‘blow your mind’ too! This is not just about church ministers, but about EVERY believer being filled and empowered with the Holy Spirit to be the church wherever they are. The sheer potential of the body of Christ as we are scattered across our villages, towns and cities is incredible!
I long that every believer would be equipped and released to be the church. I long that every disciple would know that the same Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in them!
I have a hope, not just that my baking will rise, but a much more important hope – that the church would recapture her passion for Jesus and would rise up and be the church…..kneading the dough, trusting God for the increase and ‘staying on mission’ – no matter what!
Navigating a POST-COVID world.
Mat Wilson, Senior Minister at Rowheath Pavilion Church, shared a link in which a church leader in the West Midlands shares some helpful insights into what it’s like to work in the present time and how to bridge into the time that’s coming. To access the article, click on the link below:
News Meeting members of the Strategic Board – this week, Hirpo Kumbi
Originally from Ethiopia, Hirpo came to the UK with the intention of sharing the gospel and planting churches. He settled first in Leeds and likes to joke that he is now a Yorkshireman! Having planted churches in Leeds and Sheffield as well as some other locations in the UK, Hirpo now lives in Manchester. He is part of the senior team at ForMission College as well as serving on the Strategic Board. Until next week. Martin Robinson FCC National Moderator.