Trinity is a joint URC / Methodist church. It is an active member of the Church in Abingdon – a thriving ecumenical project comprising 14 Abingdon churches.
As I write there are just a few leaves on some trees that are starting to turn to more autumnal colours. I always enjoy this time of year, especially when the leaves stay on the trees long enough to see the sun shine through them. The glow of the different colours is one of nature’s great gifts to us. Of course, when I was younger, I thought the colours were OK, but much preferred it when the leaves had all fallen. Kicking through dry autumn leaves was always such good fun.
Many of you will know by now that neither Tabitha nor I could ever be described as ‘gardeners’, keen or otherwise. Yet we do appreciate the way leaves fall and turn into mulch to feed the ground which feeds the trees and the plants. There is something just wonderful about the annual cycle where nothing is ever wasted, not to mention the creatures (great and small) that are sustained by these small ecosystems. It reminds me of that most famous verse from Ecclesiastes that says, ‘there is a time for everything’. The pattern of seasons from spring to winter show us times of growth and times of rest.
It is really difficult to understand what season this time of pandemic has given us. For some the rest has gone on long enough. For others, it seems to have been a time of even greater busyness. And for a few, it has not been that much different to normal. Remember what normal is?! The lockdown, both enforced and by choice due to age, health etc., has resulted in all sorts of difficulties and complications for individuals, families and friends. A number of people who have been able to continue to work have spoken about increased pressure, trying to do several people’s work and not just their own. Yet it has also seen so many positive things, as people who live in the same streets or areas have come to know each other and support each other through WhatsApp or other links.
God’s church has not been immune from any of this. Some of the simple things have taken much longer. Some of the things that every part of our being tells us we should do, like visiting or just giving someone a hug, have not been possible or even allowed. Every church has been under greater pressure, whether because of the difficulty of interpreting ever-changing guidance, or lack of volunteers, or financial challenges. Yet God’s church, including us here at Trinity, has held fast to the Godly principle that God loves and cares for each of us. This has been the overriding principle that has informed all we have tried to do and offer over the last months.
We have learned new skills, and our creativity and inventiveness has come to the fore as we have sought to stay connected in as safe a way as possible. In some ways, this has been for us a season of strengthening our ties with each other and God. It has been a season of seeking out what is really important to us and asking where we can best use the energies we have. It has been a season where we have rediscovered that God’s church really is the people. So we have seen all the reactions you would expect, in many ways just like the changing seasons: spurts of growth and activity as we hurried to work out what we needed to do; times of sheer exhaustion, sometimes for no apparent reason, other than that this pandemic seems to have been more draining than we thought.
What we have discovered is that God has not left us, but surrounded us. We have seen the fruits of the Holy Spirit grow. St Paul described the fruits of the Holy Spirit as being: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These fruits have seen a wonderful and bountiful harvest at Trinity, and the charisms of Trinity of generosity and grace have been simply a delight and wonderful to behold.
I pray that as we enter into October and the next few months we will be able to share stories of how the fruits of the Spirit have been demonstrated in our life together, and made us all the more aware of God’s love and concern for us all.
Wishing you all Every Blessing
The following worship material has been provided this week by Trinity Church, Abingdon, for those worshipping at home.
Those wishing to attend church will need can either calling the Office (01235 520282) – there is an answerphone, and the office is open on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Or book using the following links:
For Sunday 1 November: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/trinity-morning-worship-1-november-tickets-125597799399
For Sunday 8 November: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/trinity-morning-worship-8-november-tickets-126537690639
Church Coronavirus Guidance