Thought for the month – Provided by Alan Austin – Congregational Worship Leader
Many of us in the community of St Michael’s in the Gard live in small towns or villages where contact with other residents is encouraged via regular community events. These include art exhibitions, concerts, the new year greeting from the mayor – les voeux de le maire – apéritifs, Remembrance Day ceremonies, street shows with horse riders and bulls – manifestations taurines – and, of course, wine tastings to celebrate the new vintages.
With compulsory lockdowns in response to the pandemic, most of these have been cancelled in recent months, and many people are experiencing unusual isolation.
Fortunately, several of us engaged in the life of our church have enjoyed regular Sunday services and been able to “see” our brothers and sisters via our computer screens. It is not the same as regular church, but far better than nothing.
But not all of us have been able to participate.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, recently shared a pastoral message to bishops and their spouses in the Anglican family worldwide about the impact of the pandemic, encouraging all Anglicans to support one another during this difficult time.
His message encourages us “to walk together and be good news in the world”.
So it has been a priority – and remains so – for us to make contact with those who may be feeling alone during this period of anxiety and real risk to health and wellbeing. Not just in our church community, but in our towns and villages, families and wider friendships as well.
This may take the form of an email, a facebook message, a video chat, an invitation to lunch or an apéro – observing the protocols, of course – or a simple phone call. (I received such a phonecall very recently – “Just calling to check you are okay”. Greatly appreciated.)
Dr Welby is affirming the message of St Paul in Romans 12: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”