Well, it’s the time we’d normally be planning our summer trip to be with you all, but this year, as you will have noticed, life is rather different, and for the first time in more than 20 years, we may not be with you! I expect that church life for you is not very different from what it is for us here in Edinburgh. Rev. Jeff is spot on in reminding us that Church is us, not the building we worship in. What now seems a long time ago, I went on one of those things that trustees of charities and such like have to suffer: a Strategy Away Day. (If you don’t know what that means – blessed are you!) One of the activities we did was to look at pictures around the walls and choose the one that best indicated how we came to support the Edinburgh Food Project. One, labelled “Church”, was a picture taken from the back of a “church”, rather squint, so that all you could see were the backs of some empty, battered pews. No one chose it. Of course, the buildings we know and love are much more attractive than that, and of course we miss them, but in this time of isolation, it is important that we know and rejoice that we are the Church. Keeping a good sense of humour is important too!
Our on-line services are working pretty well, with a few glitches. On Palm Sunday, the person who was taking the role of Pontius Pilate in the dramatic reading of the passion couldn’t be reached, and the pause made one wonder whether after nearly 2000 years, Pilate had finally taken his wife’s advice and stayed at home! We are slowly managing to get readers and interceders to adjust their computers so that we don’t just see the tops of their heads. There are, however, some great advantages. Our attendances have definitely gone up, and some members of the congregation last Sunday were actually physically in Germany and Switzerland at the time!
Many things have had to change. The empty streets and closed shops are very strange. The food bank in which I work, is one of a group of seven in different parts of the city. We are normally open twice a week and see 10-15 people a time. Part of the exercise is offering tea and coffee and chatting with them. All that had to stop. Now all is managed centrally from our warehouse by phone, and the food is delivered. Fortunately, people out of work are able to provide the transport needed. Only Board meetings are more frequent, but they are on line.
For pastoral work in the congregation, David, our rector, recommends “indiscriminate telephoning”. Here, in the birthplace of Alexander Graham Bell, we are specially grateful for that wonderful piece of old technology, that everyone can use. Also, if you can’t get Zoom going, you can listen to the service on the phone.
We do hope to get over to Grey County sometime before the end of the year, but patience is the game just now. As the Queen said, quoting Vera Lynn, “We’ll meet again”!
With love from Sheila and me