Church isn’t a building

Ok – so if you get emails from New Wine, you’ll know my title isn’t original. But it really resonated with me. Why? Simply because so much has happened this year.

Our area suffered serious storms in February and the church building closed early on in the month due to fallen trees in the area and concerns around dangerous driving conditions. In the middle of

February, the building which is on the banks of the River Severn, flooded. We moved services to neighbouring churches and everyone rallied around to clean everything. A week later – it flooded again and as you all know, a month later, we ALL went into lockdown.
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9th February                                                18th February                                              24th February

Churches are often depicted in art, on napkins, jigsaws, tourist information, photographs and pretty churches are desired for weddings because they look attractive in all those pictures. Our church isn’t pretty – it’s a converted Territorial Army drill hall. It will never look pretty, but it’s ours. It’s also not a list of beliefs. It’s the people. A family. And it is a family at the heart of a community. The building closed and it’s still closed. But our Church hasn’t, because church isn’t a building. Many of the things we did, stopped. Many of them still aren’t up and running because of restrictions, but we’re very much open and looking forward to the future when we’ll be back home again.

In the meantime, the Foodbank still runs from its elevated position on the banks of the river. Our absence from the main building allowed for some of its operations to move into a bigger space as demand increased and social distancing was introduced. And like so many other churches, we’ve gone online, with a weekly Zoom meeting to worship and pray, meet with smaller groups in breakout rooms and pick up a pre-recorded preach on Youtube. We meet in small groups midweek via Zoom, have become used to supporting those who are more IT challenged and like so many others, to the phrase ‘you’re on mute’. We’ve suffered bereavement, gained babies and new members have amazingly discovered us and joined in. We’ve been able to introduce them and welcome them to the family in ways we never would have done otherwise.

So, when it’s difficult to plan ahead, it’s also comforting to know that our Good Shepherd is guiding our paths and providing for our needs and the needs of those around us. We ask God to restore our souls and to help us trust in His provision today and every day.  ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul’. Psalm 23: 1-2.

Rebecca Paynter

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