22nd March 2020 was a first for us as a church: the first time we could not gather together in person (because of the situation with Covid-19), so the first time we gathered online, using Facebook live. Many churches have livestreamed services for years, thus helping those who are disabled and unable to get to the church building, but this was the first time that the majority of churches throughout the UK used livestreaming as the way to keep people connected who could not be physically present.
Garry and I therefore sat in the church building and talked to people via Messenger as we prayed and read God’s word together. It felt decidedly odd to be doing church that way, but we are grateful for the technology available and for the people who chose to connect with us this morning.
Garry spoke about finding peace, even in troubled times. People are bewildered at the moment; we’ve never lived through anything like this global pandemic before. Some people are defiant and some are angry, but perhaps the predominant emotions are fear, uncertainty and doubt. Not only are people concerned about their health and the health of their loved ones, they are also concerned about the economic effect on our country and on individuals who are no longer certain they have a job.
Heb 12:26-28 talks about things being shaken, and that really summarises how we feel right now. When we talk about earthquakes (such as the one which hit Zagreb today), we use the term ‘seismic activity’, and that reminds us that what seems so solid to us can totter and fall. God shakes us not to mess things up, however, but to wake us to reality, to show us when our confidence is in wrong things. People are fearful right now (see Luke 21:26); in the Message version, it talks about things being ‘in uproar… in a panic, the wind knocked out of them by the threat of doom, the powers-that-be quaking.’ Yet even now, God speaks into our fear, desperation and anxiety; He speaks His reliable, sustaining, creative word.
The word Jesus predominantly speaks to us is a word of peace (see John 14:1-4, John 14:27). He promises His peace to us: Shalom, a word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquillity. Even in times of difficulties, hardship and suffering, He offers us peace. As we focus on our Saviour and trust in Him, we can have peace. Our part is to refuse to let our hearts be troubled because we are relying on the Prince of Peace to supply us with all we need.