As Michael noted on Tuesday, our Zoom service on Sunday seemed to work very well. There was a good turnout of people and I got the impression that A lots of churches are very popular, often attracting far more people than would usually turn out on a Sunday morning. We have already talked about how we do not need to be in the Church building to be a church community, and the reality is proving that point.
But as Michael also noted, it looks like a form of lockdown will continue for quite a while. And how will our services look when, finally, we are allowed to get back into church? I was talking to a friend who is a Priest elsewhere the other day. He made a reference to the Revelation of St John perhaps having something to say on social distancing and the church during the Covid 19 crisis. I have to admit that I don’t often read the book of Revelation, but his comment made me turn to it and sure enough – Chapter 11 v 1 (New English Bible version):
I was given a long cane, a kind of measuring-rod and told ‘Now go and measure the temple of God, the altar, and the number of worshippers ‘.
So perhaps that is how we will need to start planning – mapping out the space in church so we can socially distance, courtesy of the Revelation! We will of course have to await guidance from the Diocese, but for a while at least church is going to continue to look very different, both now and when we are allowed back into our beloved buildings. But even if Church is different, God is not and his unchanging care and love for his people continue forever, through good times and challenging times – even if we have to hold ‘a long cane’s’ length between us when we finally do get back to the church building.
So, then I started thinking about my choice of hymn for today. I thought, rather flippantly, that perhaps it should be one that had “ruler” in its title, as a rather corny play on the long cane theme. I decided on John Rylands 1777 hymn “Sovereign Ruler of the Skies”, which is quite appropriate at the current time. Here are three verses:
Sovereign Ruler of the Skies
Ever gracious, ever wise!
All my times are in thy hand,
All events at thy command.
Times of sickness, times of health;
Times of poverty and wealth;
Times of trial and of grief;
Times of triumph and relief.
Thou gracious, wise and just,
In thy hands my life I trust:
Thee, at all times will I bless;
Having Thee, I all possess.