In this reflection, Vicky Longbone, Church Related Community Worker for Ashbourne Road Church and Mackworth United Reformed Church’s Derby Alive to Community (A2C) project, asks us to not get too comfortable this New Year:
For me, the last few years seem to have all rolled into one, it seems impossible that our first Covid lockdown was nearly 4 years ago. Lots of things have changed in this time, some for the good and some for the bad, but every single one of us has been affected in one way or another.
One example is the advance in technology. Zoom used to mean to rush or travel quickly. How many of us had even heard of the App before Covid? Meetings without travelling, keeping in touch with family and friends or worshipping together, love it or loathe it, many of us rely on it.
Another change I’ve noticed is how many of our churches have learnt more about their communities and how they are finding ways to offer community ministry.
How many churches opened foodbanks for a few months to get through Covid? How many of those are still going nearly 4 years later? How many of those are now busier than ever?
How many churches offered community lunches, cooked and delivered to those who couldn’t get out, just for a few months? How many are still serving those meals, but more often in a building now?
When we opened our warm spaces last year, did we think we would be running them still?
The cost-of-living crisis that has followed the pandemic means that so many things that our churches set up for a short period have found the need to continue to do them.
During this time how many people have we served that we would never have met before? How far out of our comfort zones have we had to move?
I pray that every single one of you have had to move out of your own comfort zones at some point in the last few years! Meeting people who are not like us can be uncomfortable. Seeing the furniture move around because the community lunch has more people than the Sunday congregation can be uncomfortable. Doing things in different ways can be uncomfortable.
Cesar A Cruz, Dean of Secondary Schools Program at Harvard University, said: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” I first heard this quote years ago, but when it was said to me, they replaced the word ‘art’ for ‘Faith’.
Faith should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.
When we are comfortable, we become complacent, we continue to serve our own needs and not those of others. When we are disturbed, we can feel stressed or overwhelmed, but our faith should bring us comfort. Our faith should allow us to experience and share both.
So many people continue to live disadvantaged lives due to the cost-of-living crisis, and so many of them are “not like us”. Many of our churches welcome the stranger, but do we really welcome the strange as well? When we build relationships with those who are “not like us” not only are they no longer a stranger but they probably aren’t that strange after all…
I pray that 2024 brings you comfort and joy, but don’t forget to find time for the things that are uncomfortable too.
Image: Sincerely Media/Unsplash.