I imagine I’m not the only one feeling a bit dazed by how quickly life and rhythms have changed this last fortnight. Terms I’d never used before (#socialdistancing #socialisolation #church@home) are now everyday language for us all.
But here’s the thing – the Christian life is not a solitary one. You’ve probably all heard the illustration about the hot fire in the hearth and the hot lump of coal that falls away, how quickly it loses its glow and turns cold and black. It’s an illustration about the need for being together so that we don’t go spiritually cold; a reminder to those who would claim that ‘church is not important, it’s my relationship with God that counts’ that this is only a part of the story. The bigger reality is that by its very nature when we start to follow Christ for ourselves we are called into his community, the family of believers, to be the people of God and to be living out the reality of his kingdom here on earth. So, these are strange times for us not just as humans generally, but as Christians – serving the greater good by isolating ourselves as much as we can from each other for this season, but going against what we have been designed for (relationship and community). So how in the midst of this physical isolation shall we prevent ourselves from becoming cold, from being isolated spiritually and emotionally from each other?
Well, I’ve got a simple suggestion: what if every one of us committed to making two phone calls each week. The first call I make is to be an encourager – I ring and talk with someone from our family of believers, ask them about how they are doing and then offer to pray (on the phone) for them. The second phone call I make is that someone else might encourage me – I call someone and share with them how I’m doing and ask if they would pray for me. Now, you might do more than that – you might read something from the Bible together and reflect on it; you might both share and both pray for each other; you might even choose to call more than two people. But what if we all committed even to just that basic model – two intentional phone calls to different people each week, one in which I am the enourager and one in which I am encouraged by another, giving and receiving on purpose, ministering and being ministered to on purpose. It’s a simple model that will help us not only staying connected, but also with developing and deepening our spiritual relationships with a whole bunch of people over time, even through social isolation. Sounds good to me. And even better, you don’t need the internet or any tech-ability to pull it off – just a simple phone will do!
Notice in this suggestion it’s me (for you, it’s you!) taking the initiative, making both calls, seeking to serve someone on purpose and allowing another to serve me. This isn’t a call for spectators but participators! It’s a model that reminds us that the life and ministry of the church is never down to one person – not the minister, not the ministry team, not even the bishop. The church is all of us: all are called, all are equipped and all are needed – one ministering to another, sharpening each other, using our gifts, uncovering gifts from God that we didn’t even know we had until now (see 1 CorInthians 12). And perhaps this has never been more obviously true than it is right now.
So, what do you think? Will you pick up the phone and join me?
Karen Reid, Curate