Saturday, 21 March 2020

Day Four of Being Closed - Normal Life

Today being a Saturday has less of a pattern than a weekday for me. There are usually odd things that crash in like meetings, courses or commitments that make a quiet Saturday something of a rarity. But today everything feels awkward and out of balance. It's as if we are all waiting for a new normal to appear.

There was no Park Run today as the restrictions really start to get tough. But it was a beautiful windy morning for an isolation run down the seafront. Then onto the left over emails from yesterday in the study before going down to church.

Last night we opened for our regular Friday Fridge event but in a new take away format. This worked really well and we served the usual guests who find some food, hot drinks and a warm welcome most weeks. It was hard not being able to give them a place to sit and relax but fighting the spread of the virus is so important. We cannot let down the efforts of doctors and nurses who are working so hard treating those already infected. There were five volunteers who did most of the work while I arrived after it had been done to chat and help clear up. At least we were able to show we care enough to be there for the guests at this difficult time. There are no easy answers to the problem of homelessness but we can always show compassion to those in need.

We had planned to have the church open for prayer this morning yet it really didn't seem right to be open for anyone. Prayer is something that we can do anywhere. This crisis is helping me to radically rethink just how we do church. It's not about the building but being where people are, even supporting them from a distance across a phone line or a video call. We really do need to become a church without walls. This whole episode looks likely to change us forever.

So church stayed closed and signs were changed and instead I helped put together bundles of daffodils and foliage for the Mothering Sunday flowers to be taken out tomorrow. The idea is that people come to collect and then distribute the bunches to people who would otherwise miss out this year. We trust that people will be sensible and safe as they do this. It may not make much difference but each little sign of grace matters so much at a time like this.

There were lots of people out today in the spring sunshine making the most of a walk in the fresh air along the seafront. People were keeping apart even to have ordinary conversations. A collection of eight church members talked across the space in the precinct about how weird these days have become. Even this level of interaction may have to change as we stay in even more and don't go out.

As a Smart family we managed to connect across a video app together today. It was so good to see everyone's faces and see their smiles. Tonight the two of us stayed in as we usually do before a busy Sunday. Instead of people to meet this week we have a live stream service tomorrow. All is prepared but we've never done a service like this before. Normal life seems to have disappeared so quickly. Our new existence is all so odd and ill-fitting. Who knows the new normal might just be an improvement.

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