A world transformed

Published: 30th September 2021

Venturing out more, in recent weeks, has been a strange and rather unsettling experience. Like traversing a landscape that seems familiar but strangely altered. The world has changed in ways both subtle and significant.

Things just don’t work in the way that they used to. As Shakespeare might put it ‘the times are out of joint’. Trying to catch my first train to London for two years I arrived at the station to find there was no train, the timetable had been altered at short notice due to driver shortages... I get another one and find there was no mention of a functioning buffet car…no one seems to check tickets anymore on trains or at stations…

With amazing rapidity we seem to have become a cashless society. Perhaps that’s why there seem so few street beggars now or is it that they didn’t make it through the pandemic? What will become of the Big Issue sellers?

It doesn’t seem possible to see a GP anymore, a dentist only after weeks of waiting.

My body does not function the way that it used to. Nine months after Covid I still have little taste or smell. The shape of my ministry is much altered. So much more time on screen, so much less time spent travelling.

Mirroring the changes in society, the Church is also recognisable but changed. Also buffeted by forces out of our control. Bruised and battered by loss of members and loss of income. Yet still there, praying and singing and serving. Buffet cars not always operational, but a warm welcome on offer.

And I am taken back to that strange new reality ushered in by the first Easter morning. The disciples’ reaction to the resurrection initially being one of fear. Their difficulty in comprehending the meaning of the empty tomb compounded by their overwhelming sense of loss and grief as a result of Jesus’ death & the knowledge that their world would never be the same again.The story of the early church is the story of the followers of Jesus learning to live by faith not sight; deprived of the physical presence of Jesus and the security of living in his slipstream, they stepped out courageously to create a new world of missional communities; spiritually alive, adaptive, dynamic. 

The pandemic has taken much of our security away, within the Church and within wider society. There is much fear and anxiety concerning the future, for understandable reasons. But Jesus taught us and then exemplified it through his death and resurrection, that death is the necessary catalyst for rebirth and renewal. The most successful era of evangelisation in church history was in the period following its greatest trauma. As we survey a world transformed, the most imperative qualities required of us as Christian disciples will be vision, faith and courage. There will be much we need to let go of in order to reshape the church for its mission in a changed landscape. But if we hold fast to God in prayer and in our commitment to our daily discipleship, then our future will be aligned with God’s purposes and all will be well.

+Clive Wulfrun

Page last updated: Thursday 30th September 2021 1:44 PM
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