THE MASKED SINGER!

Dear Friends,

THE MASKED SINGER!

I never thought I would hear myself saying it, but I do sympathise with Boris. There will be people who think he can do no wrong and for others he can do no right.

I thought he got it wrong last week when he said that he wasn’t going to self isolate, but did he get it right when he changed his mind? Politics can be so ugly, but, as christians, we don’t play that game because we commend people who listen and try to right a wrong!

In my head I share the cynics view that is suspicious of the motives for a change of mind, but as I look in the mirror this week I see how our hearts must change our minds. We, like poor Boris, make decisions which we believe are in the best interests of people. We try to adopt responsible policies to protect the health and future of people, but when we hear voices of concern we listen with compassion and understanding. We are asked to give guidance for our own strategy for lifting restrictions so put forward recommendations that are more cautious than the law allows, but then we discover we are not cautious enough. I was pleased to hear Boris doing what we do as a Church and listen to the people, but, I am sure, I and the Elders won’t get the same ridicule as the Prime Minister. How, after all, do we please everyone?

We have heard the voices that say they won’t feel comfortable being in church if people remove their masks to sing AND we want everyone to feel comfortable to come into the presence of the Lord and sing their praise. As Steve Faber, Moderator of the West Midlands Synod, says: “As for me, I shall continue wearing mine, and I shall sing praises to God whilst wearing it. Yes, they are a nuisance at times, especially if, like me, you wear glasses. But my conviction is that it is better for me to be a little inconvenienced than for me to greatly inconvenience others should I happen to be responsible for infecting others – and indeed, risking their lives.” 

It is a case of doing unto others as you would have them do to you…. We are listening as we hope others will listen to us! We don’t want to turn people away because they won’t wear a face mask, but we also don’t want people to stay away because they are not being worn. It can’t be optional so we ask that everyone wears a mask when we start singing on Sunday, other than the choir who will continue to lead us with hymns and songs as they have done for the last few months. Being a masked singer will still be a joyful praise to the Lord!

We have to consider the people in our congregation who are vulnerable or, as Steve adds, “with family members who might be so need to exercise increased caution in order to be more certain that they won’t take a potentially fatal disease home, or you might have visitors one Sunday in a similar position. We don’t know the full story of everyone around us. The other key thing to remember is the even double vaccination does not give 100% protection from infection, and that we can pass on the disease even if we don’t have symptoms ourselves.”

So, having thought we were doing the right thing for our congregation we have heard voices with a different view and change our mind so that everyone who wants to come to church will be more comfortable in doing so. If by wearing masks people feel safer then that is what we should do….

I understand why Boris thought he could be exempt from self isolation as many other key workers will be. Being Prime Minister is a key role, isn’t it? By the letter of the law he was right, but he got it wrong because he didn’t follow the spirit of the law — and that is what was needed to set an example for everyone to see. This was a time for him to show he wasn’t exempt from government policies and can operate from the isolation of home like most of us. He wanted to reassure people, but he got it wrong and there was no way of righting that wrong in the view of so many of us.

It is, however, an important element of the image of God to be prepared to have our minds changed. “Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened,” because Moses asked. (Exodus 32: 14). I know, there is no changing some people’s minds and political divides will always exist, but if we can change our hearts we will then find the compassion to love and forgive. My heart rules my head, so I am quick to forgive and ready to listen as I hope people will listen to me…… and Boris HEARD so why not see the positive: Raise your voices when you have something to say. Silence won’t change anyone’s mind — or heart! That’s why Moses had to speak up and we pray God will forgive us as we forgive. We do forgive people for getting things wrong, don’t we? Umm! I wouldn’t want to be Boris….

The recommendation for this Sunday morning’s service which will be led by Kathryn is:

Please use hand gel/sanitiser on arrival

Continue social distancing — so leave two seats between you and the next person (unless in a family bubble).

Wear a mask/visor while in the building.

WHEN YOU SING REMAIN SEATED AND KEEP MASK ON 

For the Church Meeting in Church Hall after the service you are invited to find a seat at a table and wait for refreshments to be brought to you. Please, don’t go to the serving hatch.

If you would like to attend Sunday services in future please let Judith Gibbons know so that we are able to plan seating while maintaining social distancing. However, we will always try and accommodate visitors on the day. Please start by letting Judith know this week.

I had one of those embarrassing moments at a meeting this week when I was praised for making our resources available for the community, but fortunately had an opportunity to say that it isn’t ME but the Church that makes available what God blesses us with. So please, receive the thanks for reaching out to the community through activities, people and building. It’s not ME as minister that is the Church, but YOU are Elders and Members who represent the Body of Christ in the community.

The first stages of our Garden at the back of Church Hall have been completed, including the display of the Art Work so take time to have a look. Thank you for everyone who has helped. We can’t take the garden with us to the Broadway Horticultural Show on September 11th, but it could be an opportunity for us to encourage the village to be an Eco Village. That would be a good campaign for an Eco Church to launch, wouldn’t it? ECO-VILLAGE!

God Bless, Richard