Five things we learnt in 2020

You don’t need me to tell you that this year has been like no other. We have all felt the difficulties of 2020. I doubt we will forget them. We are still living with them.

The relief is that, as Christians, we can live through this season of uncertainty and hardship knowing that there is hope and purpose in it. We trust in the one who is in the business of redemption. In the darkness, we can see his light, we can learn his wisdom and we can search for his unfolding plans. So let me share what I have started to learn from 2020.

We need others. Previously, I understood that we are relational beings. Now I see how much. Virtual is inadequate. Zoom allows me to see and hear but it is not a meeting. I can’t meet anyone on a screen. I can’t properly care for another and I can’t easily be understood. Previously, I knew I needed church. Now I know how much. I need to sit next to others as God’s word is opened. I need to hear their stories. Singing in my living room is a shadow compared to the dazzling experience of congregational worship. Now I can truly celebrate that the Word became flesh. Thank you Lord!

Families need more than just church to develop faith. We knew that Sunday School and youth group were not the whole story, but it has been a shock to discover what happens when you remove them. Many parents love how easily their children walk into the church building for their groups, but are surprised how reluctant they are to look at the Bible at home. In church groups, our children can find a peer group, teaching tailored to them and fantastic role models in their leaders. But growing faith is a daily work. God’s word needs to be lived as well as studied. Trusting Jesus is 24/7 not a neat box on a family planner.

The goal does not change. While this virus has closed doors, cancelled events and separated relationships, it has not shifted Christ from his throne. Our goal is to still to show one another our glorious eternal Lord. The Bible is still as able to slice to the heart as it ever was. Every prayer is still heard. The Spirit is still the very power of God at work amongst us. But some of our methods need to change. If we want to be about the essential work of discipleship we need to be creative, constantly innovating, knocking down every barrier that prevents it happenng. Conversations may happen in the rain. Bibles may be opened over a screen share. Long walks may be needed. Let us keep doing whatever it takes to prepare one another for the Lord’s return

We have faith for times like these. We are not in control. We do not know what tomorrow will bring. We cannot plan with certainty. We cannot fix the problems of those we love. We are not God. We never were. But even as Christians, we were tempted to believe that we were masters of our own destiny. We now feel smaller. God now feels bigger. It is excellent for our children and young people to learn that. Their parents cannot answer every question and they cannot keep every promise. Let us keep telling our children that we have faith for times such as these. Our faith is being refined. That is worth enjoying.

We are local. Let’s show real love. We all know our local parks better. We have all seen more of our road or estate. We are all more rooted in the one place where we live. We are local. We are part of a community. We feel it more than we did. Many have found new ways to show love to their neighbours. Before school@home my son had never dropped muffins off at neighbours. I had never played sport with another family on our road. Can we continue to love our neighbours when we are allowed to travel beyond them? Our local church wants to reach into our community, but we are the ones who live next door to our own small part of our community. No one else in our church can knock on these doors and receive such a warm welcome. That is a gift.

Say good bye to 2020 with relief. Hold tight to what 2020 has taught us.