A note to my church family,

Dear church family,

It’s Monday right now.  Monday.  As the person who gets to be your administrator, normally on a Monday and Tuesday I have a list of jobs to do – post Sunday service.  Now – well – I have still have a list of jobs to do, but that list looks drastically different to what it was before lockdown.

Monday.  It’s Monday.  And I have to say I miss you all.  Hear that? Read that?  I miss you all.

I really do.

I miss the babies at the back of church, squealing in delight.  I miss the people connecting over coffee and hugs.  I miss the chance to worship collectively.  I miss seeing the camaraderie, the shenanigans and the seriousness.

And I’m wondering if maybe you are missing that too?

Today we have 613 people ranging in age from 2 months to 92 years of age, who would call Coast Vineyard Church their home.  Somehow God has granted me with the gift of knowing each of those 613 names and I can match those names to faces. There must be a limit to what my brain and memory can handle, but I thankfully haven’t reached it yet.  You are really not just a name on a list.  We may never have met, or I may have only said ‘hi’ in passing, but, really I’m just itching to become your new second best friend.  You are not just a face in crowd.  You have gifts and qualities that only you have, you bring to this world certain traits, that we would miss if you weren’t around.  I have things to learn from you – from your life experience, from your faith journey, from who you are.

I realise that at this incredibly tough time, it would be really easy to shut down a little, and to stop reaching outwards and upwards.  There are lots of voices calling for your attention, lots of videos to watch, articles to read, so many possible demands of you and on you. So many things that its actually overwhelming. One of the dangers that could go hand in hand with that, could be in starting to feel like you’re part of the unseen.  The invisible.  The forgotten.  You’re home, you’re maybe alone, and you’re wondering who really cares?  This feeling may grow the longer we go with not being able to meet in person.

Well.

On this very Mondayish Monday, I know without a doubt, that ‘we’ – as in we – Coast Vineyard Church – cares. We miss you and we love you.  And if you’re yet to call Coast Vineyard Church as your home, I can’t wait to meet you and get to know you.  You’re framily.  Friends who become family.

You know while it’s a pretty easy thing to shut down, to feel like you’re ‘surplus to requirement’, to feel insignificant, even at the very best of times – trust me, I know those feelings all too well, at some point, it makes the world of difference when you choose to listen to God’s voice on the matter.  What does He say about you?  Who does He say you are?

What helps me is when I read what the Psalmist, David, says of God – when we feel lost, ignored, forgotten about…..God is there.  God is present.  We are so very intimately known and loved.

Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.

 You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
You read my heart like an open book
and you know all the words I’m about to speak
before I even start a sentence!

You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.
 You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way,
and in kindness you follow behind me
to spare me from the harm of my past.

With your hand of love upon my life,
you impart a blessing to me.
This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible!
Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.

Where could I go from your Spirit?
Where could I run and hide from your face?
 If I go up to heaven, you’re there!
If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too!

  If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there!
If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting!

 Wherever I go, your hand will guide me;
your strength will empower me.
It’s impossible to disappear from you
or to ask the darkness to hide me,
for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.

There is no such thing as darkness with you.
The night, to you, is as bright as the day;
there’s no difference between the two.

You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside
and my intricate outside,
and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex!

(Psalm 139: 1 – 14).

You are missed and you are loved.  You are known by the One who matters most, and you matter to a certain bunch of ragtag misfits, a bunch of ragamuffins who call Coast Vineyard Church, home.  Be well dear friends. x

 

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When the ‘little’ is actually the everything

My lightbox today spells out ‘What a time to be alive’.  And ain’t it?  Ain’t it just?

I’ve had words swirling in the my head for the last couple of weeks – an agitated swirling though with it’s rhythm unsettled and not helped by the bombardment of other people’s words and voices and thoughts.  So, please, don’t read this if it’s just going to be another voice.  You don’t need that.  I don’t need that.  Turn off your device and watch an episode of ‘Call the Midwife’ instead, that’ll be better for your soul.

But, stick with me, if you do want to hear what this ‘ole heart and soul and mind is making out of what is now our new reality.

We were living in America in 2011 when the Christchurch Earthquake struck.  The big one.   The one that killed 185 people and changed the face of that city forever in an instant.  I’d just come out of the supermarket from an early morning shop (the boys started school before eight when we lived there – helloooooo productive mornings) when I got a call.  For the following hours and days we were glued to our computer, to the news coming out of NZ,  Waiting to hear if family and friends were ok.  Family members were ok – homes were damaged but hearts were not.  Friends, not so much.  Michael used to work at CTV, a television station, and that building suffered horrific damage and massive loss of life.  Loss of friends and colleagues.  We felt so incredibly helpless.  Here we were  – on the other side of the world and completely unable to do anything practical to help.  All we could do was pray and reach out via the internet.  Reach out to friends who were also hurting and family members who had lost their beloveds.

We know what it feels to feel helpless.

Which is what it feels like right now.  In the middle of a pandemic, when we’re actually ordered to stay home, to self-isolate, to only have one person of the family go out for essential supplies, and to have a high risk person at home, making you extra aware of the dangers out there.

Helpless.

Inadequate.

There’s so much we can’t do.  People are suffering out there, experiencing physical pain, financial loss, huge stress and massive amounts of anxiety. The thing I know most about pain and suffering is that it is lessened a little or a lot, by the presence of others.  By people stepping into that pain to be with you.  But we can’t do that right now, not physically, can we?

But.  As I keep reminding myself, we can focus on loving the ones right in front of us.  This isn’t the time for big heroics at all – it’s actually the time for those quiet, brave and bold moves, that no-one draws attention to, or throws a spotlight on, because the reality of those things, is that they are things we can all do. We can all do, each and every day.

We can love our families.

We can love our neighbours.

We can check in online or via the phone to our friends, near and far.

We can keep in touch with our work colleagues.

We can have Friday drinkies together  – thanks to the technology.

We can respond to that random Whats App message from a family member about a topic that normally does not interest us one iota.

We can call those who are self-isolating by themselves to say hi, and even plan our walks to go past their houses on purpose if we can, to say a big fat hello over the fence.  From a distance. Thank goodness that here in NZ we can still go for walks.

Maybe we need to start placing a bigger value on what can be perceived as smaller gestures of love, because something tells me that they are really the bigger gestures, the ones that really count.  The ones that mean so much to people.

Mother Teresa is attributed for saying ‘What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.’.  She also said I want you to be concerned about your next-door neighbor. Do you know your next-door neighbor?‘.  Boom.  I don’t yet know all my neighbours.  Hopefully I will before this lockdown ceases.  

So often so many of us spend so much time worrying and fretting over what we see as our ‘mission’,  How can we make a difference in this here world?  How to be our best version of us?

I think the answer to that has never been clearer.

One of my favourite instagrammers posted this during the week:

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If watering the plants right in front of us seem like not enough, then maybe we need to change our views on what’s really important right now.  We need to flip our ideas of heroics.  Just like what’s happening in the case of essential workers – we are now so very reliant and appreciative of those whose jobs weren’t necessarily deemed as important as others before this pandemic struck.  And.  May these perspectives stay our new normal.

We may feel helpless – but we’re not.  We can offer help to those around us.  It just looks a little different to normal.

We may feel inadequate – but we’re not.  Those kids of yours may well be climbing the walls – but you are the very best parents for them now.  And you always have been.  That friend of yours may be really struggling – but you may be the only person who asks her how she really really really is.  That boss of yours may be feeling like they are carrying the weight on everyone’s expectations on their shoulders – you could well be the only person to thank them for the effort they are putting into keeping your job going.

The little may seem little, but it’s actually everything.

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