Following the UK Government’s latest announcement we know that Places of Worship will be closed from 5th November to 2nd December, unless they are being used for:
- To broadcast acts of worship
- Individual prayer
- Formal childcare or where part of a school
- Essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks
- Other exempted activities such as some support groups
- We continue to offer funerals in church
- We continue to stream worship
- Individual prayer will be available in the hub every Sunday (Wigan Parish Church)
- We continue to offer prayer and care (St George’s in our hub in partnership with The Brick and our neighbours St James’ Poolstock with Tom’s Pantry).
PLEASE NOTE – OTHER AREAS OF OUR WEBSITE WILL NEED TO UPDATED IN THE COMING DAYS
In the early months of the pandemic there was still novelty within the monotony. Locked within our homes, with only essential shops open, we found new ways to connect with one another, embraced technology and our near neighbours. We discovered new places on our doorsteps to walk and exercise. The pandemic was presented at first as a disruption and we were united in the hope that our normal lives would resume again in the autumn. It is clear now that we are in a marathon not a sprint.
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah features one of the most quoted verses of the Bible.
For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
Jeremiah was writing in a period of exile as God’s people had been taken as captivity from their homes. False prophets had declared a swift return. Jeremiah writes to say they will be exiled for a significant amount of time. He encourages them to accept the situation.
During the time of the exile the Jewish people had to learn to live without the mainstays of their faith – the temple, a king descended from David, and the land itself.
We have had to adjust to living without so many of the things that nourish us. We are still not permitted to sing together in worship. Many of us will have gone months without seeing family and friends. When we do see our loved ones we have to refrain from physically embracing one another.
We’ve missed birthday celebrations, weddings and even funerals. Jeremiah doesn’t focus on the restrictions and tell his generation to accept their lot. Instead, with glorious positivity he instructs them to build, to grow, and to increase. They are to bloom where they are planted!
In a time of great change and uncertainty, God called them to an outward movement.
‘Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’ (v.7)
We too are to seek the peace and prosperity of Wigan. Our true home is in eternity but it is here and now in this time on earth where we are to build, to grow and increase. We are to pray for our town. To intercede on behalf of the people we live alongside.
How can we ensure that we don’t just survive the next few months but we thrive?
- Firstly, we are to seek God. Daily devote time to pray and read the Scriptures. Having a rhythm of reading the Scriptures makes such a difference in deepening our relationship with God.
- Secondly, live on the frontline of bringing hope to others. In this time of the pandemic we have appreciated the roles of essential workers, especially those who often are forgotten. In our interaction with others we can bring words of encouragement and hope, showing our appreciation of them. When we have the opportunity we can offer to pray with and for others. We can share the difference Jesus makes to our lives. Look to be a blessing.
- Finally when it seems like there is no end in sight we are to remember we are in God’s great story of redemption and rescue. We are pilgrim people, waiting for the return of our King. He calls us to renewal and growth, to move out and connect with our community, to grow and make disciples.
We are exiles in this world because the present world around us is not under Christ’s rule. As pilgrims we are living in the now and not yet of God’s Kingdom come on earth. We yearn, long and desire the Kingdom to come and for all to be made new.
Let us seek the peace and prosperity of this town, let us move out in mission and we go as exiles to grow and make disciples of Jesus.