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A message from Christy

As lockdown restrictions lift and we begin to return to a more familiar way of life than the one we’ve experienced over the last 3/4 months. Businesses are opening back up, families are reuniting, children are going back to school, and friends are forming bubbles so they can hug one another. But we’re not through it all yet, people who are shielding remain at home, many continue to work from home, and for now, our church buildings remain closed. For me lockdown has been a long period of reflection, and a part of that has been a view of how faith and religious practices have adapted and changed through the pandemic. I personally have witnessed lots of different responses: I’ve seen communities come together to ensure that those shielding and alone aren’t isolated, I’ve seen technology used and shared to allow congregations to connect and join in worship from their own homes, I’ve seen those who haven’t used technology like this before learn how to in order to benefit from this. And on the other hand, I’ve seen people who feel detached from the experience of church, I’ve seen people who have realised that their church wasn’t the right place for them, I’ve seen people learn how their faith looks when it isn’t being moulded by other people. We have each had a different lockdown experience and similarly our faiths have had different journeys during this time. Personally mine has been through a lot, prior to lockdown, I was a weekly churchgoer, often two services every Sunday at two different churches (one which will always be home, and one which provided more relatable preaches to my age). During the COVID-19 pandemic, both churches have offered online services and Zoom meetings and ways to connect and stay in touch. But I’ve struggled to join in with that. To me it hasn’t felt like church, it’s not been a way that works for me. And at first I felt guilty about that, I was putting pressure on myself to “log in to church” and feeling like I’d failed because it wasn’t working for me. But as a result of this, I’ve joined what I believe is a group of people bigger than myself: people who’s homes have become their church. My Sunday’s look like a cup of tea with the dog, Christian music playing, wearing comfy pyjamas, praying in the peace of the morning, and reading bible passages. My services have been driving down the motorway with Christian music on worshipping with every breath I have, and crying with the emotion of being with God on my journey. My church family has been the inspiring friends and family that I have who have encouraged me through everyday of lockdown and who have inspired me with their stories of compassion and generosity through this hard time. This is my church right now, and it’s meant more to me to do this, independently, with God in my living room, or in my car, or on FaceTimes with family and friends; than any online service, or technological connection to Bible Studies and socials. Don’t get me wrong, I see the value to community and I know the power of meeting with other people to join together to worship God, and I know from experience that it has been beneficial for so many people! But the lockdown options haven’t felt like that to me, so I’ve made my own lockdown options. I believe wholeheartedly that God has joined me every Sunday morning in my moments of prayer, I believe He has taken every journey with me, and I believe that He has witnessed every compassionate action offered by friends and family; the same way that He does everytime I invite Him into my life, and just as He has joined those people who have watched church on Facebook, or YouTube and those who have joined Zoom bible studies and Christian socials. This has been a challenging time for me and my faith, as I’m sure it has been for many others. It’s been hard, and it’s not over yet. But through it all, my belief in God has not faltered, my knowledge that He walks with me has not faded, my feeling of Him working in my life has not changed. And I think this is the POWER of God, for the first time, truly demonstrated to me personally. I’ve been a Christian my whole life and I’ve experienced revelations, and I’ve witnessed other people who have had life changing experiences of the power of God, but I think this is the first time I’ve truly felt it myself. My God is a God who overcomes adversity, my God is a God who shines in the darkness, my God is a God who meets me wherever I am (both mentally and physically), my God is a God who does not judge or condemn, my God is a God who loves me just as I am, my God is a God who does not leave me when I find it hard to join Him, my God is a God who accepts every effort I make no matter how small, and my God is a God who tells me that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 130:14) and I am who He says I am. This blog post feels a bit to me more like a rambling of my thoughts than an actual preach or bible study, but I feel like it’s important to share that whatever your practice has been through lockdown, it is okay and it is enough! God does not judge you or think badly of you if you can’t connect with church on YouTube, He doesn’t love you less if you can’t join the Zoom bible study, He doesn’t leave you because you aren’t physically in a church building, He doesn’t mind if you struggle to worship alone, He understands if you’ve found this hard. God is with you and He loves you for just wanting to be with him. He is proud of you for trying to worship and praise Him and connect with Him anyway you can right now. He is your father, and it brings Him joy for you to ask to spend time with Him: whether that be in your pyjamas at 10am on a Sunday, or in the car taking a trip, or on a call to your family, or if you’re on YouTube watching services, or if you’re serving your local community through lockdown, or if you have Christian music playing while you work from home...whatever your lockdown church has looked like, God is there with you. It’s okay to have found this challenging, but know that He has walked with you every minute and will continue to through it all. Kind RegardsChristy

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