Happy New Year!
From Rev Dr John Squires
Presbytery Minister - Wellbeing
This coming Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent, and Advent is when we start a new year in the calendar of the church. Before we plunge into the coming year, it’s good to look back over the year that is ending. And what a year it has been!! So here is my offering for the year now ending: my top ten learnings from twenty twenty.
- Change. People can be flexible, adaptable, resilient, and determined, if they put their minds to it—communities have dealt with smoke, bushfires, hail, COVID-19, self-isolation and ongoing restrictions, and are continuing strong, despite all these challenges.
- New ways to be church. Finding new ways of gathering, worshipping, caring, and reaching out, is always possible—there are lots of good examples in the congregations of our presbytery!
- Sacred spaces at home. Making a sacred space in the home has fostered our faith and strengthened our spirits. We can take responsibility for our own life of discipleship.
- New ways of connecting. We now have a sense that we do not need to have all of our set-apart sacred spaces dedicated to worship, but we can worship in different places and different ways, and still be connected with one another and with God.
- Trusting Science. We have trusted scientific advice when it comes to the pandemic, and adapted our way of living in accordance with that advice. We can also trust scientific advice when it comes to the changes that are taking place in the climate, and adapt the way that we are living in accordance with that advice. We can do this. We must do this!
- Care for the vulnerable. Prioritising the vulnerable is the centre of our calling. Ensuring that all of our practices do not pose a risk to the vulnerable (through health or age) has been a firm commitment throughout the year.
- Reimagining. Reimagining the ways that we operate as a church is a key outcome for so many congregations this year, and we have shown that we can do this next year, and the year after, and each following year.
- Keeping connected. Mobile phones, Email, Facebook, WhatsApp, FaceTime, ZOOM, and YouTube videos, are ways that we now use to communicate regularly. I can work from home and make contact with people in every congregation from Crookwell to Jindabyne, from Batemans Bay to Eden, from Gungahlin to Tuggeranong.
- Take care. Wearing a mask, replacing handshakes with elbow bumps, keeping 1.5 metres apart, checking in at each place we enter, sanitising our hands before and after any activity, are now all things that we do naturally, as second nature.
- Holding on to hope. Hope is important. Hope is what we all need. Holding on to hope, even when the next step is uncertain, has been an important lesson learnt.
And what did not make the list? I want.
I want to see people again. I want to be able to go out. I want to meet in the building. I want to sing. I want to have morning tea. I want to visit family. I want to give you a hug. I want to be able to travel where I want to go to. I want to go back the way it was. I want you to do this. I want. I want ...
I want is nowhere near the top of the list, not even on the list, for people who follow the way of Jesus: If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me (Mark 8:34). But what about those others in the top ten?
What would be in your list of top ten in twenty twenty?