A New Year’s Message from Community Pastor, Claire

I hope you all had a good Christmas despite the restrictions. Hopefully it was a chance to pause, refresh and reflect on the good news of Jesus in some way (as well as eat loads of tasty food!). My positive ‘Happy New Year’ message feels rather dampened as we also welcome a new Lockdown this week. I know the news last night will have brought a mix of emotions and it’s ok to need a few days to process it all. I’ll be praying for each of you as you work out what this means for you, especially for those of you with children too.

As leaders we’re also trying to process what the news means for us as a church. We were due to have a service at The Radio Wing this coming Sunday and I know many of us have appreciated being able to gather together like this over the past few months. Somewhat surprisingly, the new lockdown guidance does allow religious services to continue during this lockdown. For some religions, and branches of Christianity, there is a particular spiritual significance to attending a specific place of worship or carrying out certain rituals. So banning all religious services can cause distress to these communities in particular.

However, with Covid cases rising rapidly, the clear message from the government is to stay at home wherever possible. The closure of schools gives an indication of how seriously we need to take that message. As we consider our actions as a Church, we also want to think about the example we are setting for the community too. Just because we can meet, doesn’t mean we should. The Baptist Union of UK Churches (which we belong to) has also just released guidance advising churches not to open at this time. 

Therefore, as a leadership team we have decided we will not be holding any services at The Radio Wing for the time being. 

We will continue to review the guidance and our procedures over the next few weeks as the lockdown progresses. Please be praying for wisdom and clarity as we seek God’s guidance for the way ahead. 
But as with previous lockdowns, we don’t stop being church just because we can’t gather together physically. We can continue to connect over zoom, phone calls and 1-1 socially distanced walks, which are allowed for daily exercise during the current lockdown. Let’s keep encouraging one another and showing God’s love to our wider community too.

Finally, a reminder that whatever we face, God is always with us. We remember Jesus as Immanuel, God with us, at Christmas. But the promise of his presence is for every day of the year and every situation we find ourselves in. Here are some of my favourite verses from Isaiah 43 that remind us of that promise:

“But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
 For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”

May you know God’s presence and peace with you

Claire

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