Mark & Debbie

Since I last wrote, I have not had the opportunities I had hoped for. I wanted to meet you all in the flesh, getting to know you and the area as we settled into life in Glencairn, Moniaive and Dunscore. Then … WHAM! … coronavirus sent us into lockdown. It’s been a learning curve for all of us. We have learnt new terms – self-isolation, shielding, social-distancing. We have gone back to old ways – watching out for neighbours, enjoying our gardens, growing vegetables. We have tried‘new’ things – Skype, Zoom, YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp online shopping. We have learnt how much we value those we cannot interact with – family, friends, neighbours. We have appreciated the efforts of those we often take for-granted – doctors, nurses, delivery drivers, carers, teachers, etc.

The impact of the enforced change of lifestyle has been dramatic. We can hear the birds more, nature seems to be having a new lease of life, roads and streets have been quieter, pollution levels are down (marginally), the little things of life (so often missed or taken for-granted) have become important for us.

I was inducted via Skype on 24th March (after lockdown began) and since then the congregations have had to adapt to a ‘remote’ Minister, mainly seeing me via the various unflattering internet outlets available. We have been able to continue regular Sunday worship via Zoom – pyjamas and coffee in hand are the new Sunday ‘Best’! Our Sunday services are recorded and made available alongside reflections during the week on YouTube. We have been joined by friends from South Africa, Lubuto, County Durham, other parts of the UK and, most recently, Rev David Coleman from Eco-Congregations Scotland. In the midst of the lockdown, isolation and distancing we have become more aware of our outward links as part of the Universal Church!

Our Elders have been working hard to maintain contact with you, though many are themselves shielding, and we have been conscious that not everyone is ‘online’ so have tried to get the weekly Church Family News (CFN) and outline of our worship to as many as possible. Apologies if you have missed out – let us know through your Elder, Session Clerk, or me.

In these strange times many of us have become more aware of our vulnerabilities – underlying medical factors leading to isolation and shielding, contact with the infected leading to quarantine, being outside leading to masking-up and nervous avoidance of others.

We do not know when lockdown will be lifted, whether coronavirus will ‘surge’ again, when we will see each other in the flesh, what the permanent impact of the experience will be (economically, environmentally, educationally, emotionally).

We do know that the uncertainty is not easy. Yet both vulnerability and uncertainty are parts of regular life, they are just more amplified and focussed at times like this. It might sound trite, but Jesus knows about vulnerability and uncertainty: born as a human baby, fled as a refugee, left home to wander the countryside dependant on the goodwill of people, surrounded by crowds, hated by the authorities, deserted by friends, falsely accused, arrested, flogged, crucified, buried in a borrowed tomb. He broke down cultural barriers – touched lepers, spoke to women. He challenged the religious elite – forgave sins, healed the sick on the Sabbath. He sought to focus people on God rather than themselves, on each other rather than their own interests – lessons we all need at this time.

God Bless & elbow bumps,