While isolation is very much a buzz word, it has been a part of the human condition for millennia. Can you imagine how the young Patrick felt, huddled in the bottom of a boat that was taking him further and further from his home and his family? Can you imagine the loneliness and fear he felt on the mountainside of Slemish all those months and years, through all the changing seasons. We know from his writings that he grew up in a Christian home but that it was only in those hours of lonely isolation that he really began to take stock of who he was and what he really believed. As his physical circumstances diminished, his Faith and Spirit grew so that he could recognise the Voice of God as it led him to his escape and then incredibly to his voluntary return as a Missionary.
God alone knows what the Future holds but as well as facing a time of uncertainty we are entering a season of opportunity. We are already witnessing great acts of kindness for friend and stranger. This is something we as a church need to build on as the current period of ‘delay’ turns into a time of lockdown. We are working with the Bray Churches Together to set up a sustainable system of supporting everyone in Bray who is vulnerable or in particular need. Whatever shape this takes it will be known as Bray Community Connects, we hope to come alongside everyone in Bray who needs us to deliver, collect and do whatever else people in isolation may need. This may take a few days to set up in a sustainable way that serves everybody for the days and weeks to come. It is really important that we let each other know how we can help and support through this challenging time.
Another initiative that we are looking at which might be suitable for individuals and families is called ‘The Story Tree”. We are encouraging people of all ages to create a story tree by placing a branch in their window and decorating it for Patrick’s Day and week. We will then ask people to take a picture of their tree and send it to me on 087 948 4407. By placing the tree in your window it means people walking past can see your creativity and the idea might spread. After this week’s St. Patrick’s Tree you could then create a Mother’s Day Tree for the following weekend, then a Palm Sunday Tree , Easter Tree etc. Keep the pictures coming in!
As we have witnessed in Italy where people sang from their balconies, simple symbols and activities can have a huge impact on our morale and our mood. The key message of the Gospel over the coming weeks is that God is with us and for us, no matter how physically isolated we are, we need not be spiritually nor socially isolated. We can and will get through these coming weeks and we have an opportunity now to determine what sort of church community we will be when we reemerge from this time of trial. May God bless you and keep you and make his face to shine upon you and until we meet again may He hold us all in the Palm of His Hand.
Lots of love and peace and even joy, Baden and Avril and all at Christ Church Bray