“It takes a village to raise a child,” the expression goes. The equivalent expression, in our situations, could be, “It takes a church to get through a lockdown.”
One of the life-savers in the last lockdown was being able to meet – online – with small groups from church, but not everyone had that opportunity, so starting tonight, from 5:30 to 6:30pm, (and happening each Wednesday night during lockdown) everyone is invited to a community-wide ‘Community Hour’.
|Canberra Baptist Church is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting – ‘Community Hour’.|
We’re planning a different theme for Community Hour each week, but tonight – to keep it simple – we’re asking, “What’s one lowlight and one highlight of being back in lockdown for you?”
It’s a simple question, but it comes from the Ignatian spiritual practice of the Daily Examen – a prayerful technique in which you review the events of the past (usually of each day) in order to detect God’s presence and to discern God’s direction for us. (If you would like to know more about the Daily Examen and use some guided prayers – check these out https://pray-as-you-go.org/article/examen-prayer. There’s one there for children too – a good addition to bedtime rituals!)
It has been a difficult week, seeing the case numbers in NSW and here in the ACT, and the traumatic events taking place in Afghanistan, Haiti and Greece. We need to acknowledge that these are tragic events and that they will have an impact on us. We must also acknowledge that there is so much – so much – that still give us joy and comfort and hope – that surrounds us with love – during this time.
Yesterday, at morning prayers, we read Psalm 36. (I’d encourage you all to read it!) It begins with the palmist’s complaint about the behaviour of the wicked and I am so thankful for that. Here is no super spiritual saint, but someone – just like me – who struggles with the bad behaviour of others, who feels overwhelmed by the bad things that are happening. But once the psalmist has that off their chest, they turn to the amazing ‘breadth and length and height and depth’ (Ephesians 3:18 keeps popping up!) of the love of God.
At prayers we read it in the NRSV and in The Message – and both were powerful in different ways – so I am including them for you here – side by side.
|Psalm 36 – NRSV |
5 Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your judgments are like the great deep;
you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.
|Psalm 36 – The Message 5-6 God’s love is meteoric,|
his loyalty astronomic,
His purpose titanic,
his verdicts oceanic.
Yet in his largeness
nothing gets lost;
Not a man, not a mouse,
slips through the cracks.
It is after the psalmist has basked in the love of God, this love that is infinite and also intimate, that they are able to articulate their genuine prayer: (I’ll stick with The Message), “[Dear God,] keep on loving your friends; do your work in welcoming hearts. Don’t let [these circumstances] kick me around.”
And that is my genuine prayer too, that I can remember – at all times – God’s love; that God will continue to work in and through my life – that I will welcome this work! – and that, while acknowledging all that is happening, I will not lose my hope and joy.
To get a jump on tonight’s Community Hour I will share my lowlight and highlight of being back in lockdown.
The lowlight is being alone in the church building again. I am so grateful I am not entirely alone! It was wonderful to have Steve Blackburn and Kerstin Wallace on tech on Sunday, and James Carter on the organ, but we missed having the congregation in that space as well – especially when it came to the singing! James took some photos from the organ and I’ve included one here! As the music reveals, however, we are still one body – even in our different places!
The highlight is an email I received from Micah (after I mentioned the Micah Women Leader’s Delegation in my sermon) on Monday to say how excited they were that Alicia Payne, Member for Canberra, had made a speech last week in Parliament mentioning our meeting with her in June and all three of Micah’s ‘asks’; famine relief, global vaccine disparity and increasing our giving to overseas aid. You can read it here (Here is the Hansard Transcript.) or watch the video (Here is the Video). Very exciting to have our visit on the record, and please join me in praying that further actions will flow from this.
Peace be with you.
Rev Belinda Groves