St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Cheam
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St Andrew’s • Cheam

Craig's letter of 25 June

Craig Bowman

Dear Friends

Once again I hope everyone is managing to keep safe and well.

As the lockdown restrictions are gradually eased many of us we will be able to meet with people we haven’t seen in the flesh for months and go to places we have missed, whether that be shops, gardens or even a restaurant. However we do need to be aware of three key matters.

First, the threat of covid-19 is still very real and restrictions that remain in place and the limits on social interaction remain important. The need to be careful and avoid unnecessary risks remains for the protection of everyone’s health. We must be wary of the temptation to think that ‘it won’t matter if I just stretch the rules a little, after all I am only one person so what can it hurt?’ Let’s continue to take responsibility for others not just those close to us.

Second, although many of us will have more freedom to engage with other people and activities, some will not. Those who continue to need to shield may have an increased sense of frustration and isolation as they see others enjoying activities and engagement which is denied to them. Let’s continue to be sensitive to the situation of others.

Third, those places and activities to which we can return will not be the same as those we left in March. Social distancing and other restrictions will have an impact on virtually everything and may well make the experience less satisfying and even disappointing. Let’s be aware that our social interactions are going to be different.

The third of those issues is particularly relevant as we explore what we might do in our buildings now that they are going to be available to us soon. Collective worship is probably the thing that has been missed the most but we need to realise that even if we can enter our buildings many of the things that we would do in worship will not be possible. This is likely to include singing, serving coffee and tea, sharing the peace, and a particular challenge would be sharing in Holy Communion. As we prepare to return we need to think very carefully about what we can offer that will be appreciated and not enter into something that will bring more frustration rather than help us in our discipleship.

Any thoughts that you have about this will be gratefully received by the elders.

On Sunday 28th June worship will again be available from 10.30am by calling the dedicated phone number 020 3870 2810.

This week our Old Testament reading from Genesis is the disturbing account of Abraham and his son Isaac. This is regularly described as a test of Abraham’s faithfulness to God – will he be willing to sacrifice his son trusting that God’s promise to him will still hold true? On Sunday I will take a slightly different look at how God might be testing Abraham. But in these days the question of what we need to sacrifice in order that the future may be good is one that we are all grappling with: politicians, school authorities, family members, church leaders. For Abraham it was heartbreakingly difficult; for us in our time it is also difficult and there may be hurt still to be dealt with.

May God be with all those who have difficult decisions to make.