“In your Wisdom, you granted a Sabbath; a blessed time to rest in gratitude for all that you have given; a time to liberate ourselves from vicious consumption; a time to allow the land and all creatures to rest from the burden of production. “ (prayer for season of creation)
The concept of Sabbath is one of the biggest themes of scripture. Life in bible times was designed around this principle and modern life is designed to eradicate the principal altogether.
Sabbath is built on the concept that God has the first word, and that it is God who is at “work” and that it is “in Him and with Him and through Him: that we have our being.” God is the one who provides, God makes it grow. We are guilty of responding in one of two equally deficient ways. The first is to say, that if God is doing the work that we must leave it to Him. Like the onlooker at the cross saying –“let him save himself – if he is God let him come down from the cross”(Luke 23:35). It is God’s world let God fix it, we must just be faithful to Him by watching the world follow its course to destruction and waiting for Jesus to return and take us home to be with Him.
The second is to think that we should make our own plans and then ask God to bless them. That we should use our status as God’s people to have our own ideas empowered. Throughout History, leaders have done this and so we had Crusades, and Holy Wars and annexation of lands and “God’s War” is what President Bush called his foreign policy. Doing nothing in God’s name and doing our own thing in God’s name has been a sin of the people for all time.
So how do we do what is right in God’s eyes? How do we apply our faith to daily living and ensure that we do not make the mistakes that our forebears made?
Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God! (Micah 6:8).
When we live for justice and mercy in humility, we remain dependant on God but active in our duty to Him.
Caring for our world, caring for others, caring for the planet, is an act of justice, it is an act of mercy and it is an act of humility.
Let us continue to find ways to change our lifestyles to adhere to this principle, and by the power of God’s Holy Spirit effect the world with the truth that we live by. May the God who has called you, strengthen you for His service!
Level 1 brings about changes again and I already see that people are concluding that the threat is over, and life must return to normal. This is very far from reality. Level 1 means that as a nation we believe that we can manage the impacts of the Virus and that our activities, should we maintain high standards of social distancing and sanitisation, should be able to continue because we can manage the negative impacts in terms of health, but the economy needs to recover. Managing the pandemic has gone through cycle, first we sacrificed the economy to ensure health, now we put our health at risk, for the sake of the economy and our financial wellbeing. Everybody is continually called to sacrifice for the good of others. I beseech thee therefore to be risk averse. Wear a mask, social distance, don’t go out unless absolutely necessary and sanitize, sanitize, sanitize.
We continue to wrestle with the balancing act of the PHYGITAL church, at present solely digital but now needing to ease physical gatherings back into the mix.
I am proposing to Parish council that we begin Physical Gatherings on the 4th of October on the feast of St Francis. They have asked that we consult widely on the matter and that in fact the Vestry makes the decision, not just council.
Thus, we are beginning a process of discovery as to how we will develop Sunday Worship in the Parish. As people become more familiar with socialising, the logistics of having physical gatherings becomes easier.
I remind you that it is all about viral load and exposure. Every time you increase your activities the risk increases. So, for a church that is now having people from multiple risk circles congregating, it is complex. It’s not a legal issue, but a caring for the vulnerable issue. I am sure that together we can return to physical gatherings, retain our online ministry and grow the church to the glory of God.
Please continue to pray for the vulnerable and those suffering from the impacts of the pandemic.
Be assured of my prayers.