During lockdown, the people of St Philip’s were busy making improvements for when the church reopens. We installed an Eco Roof made from recycled car Ares, and a hearing-aid loop system in the church so that those with hearing aids will hear services, concerts and events clearly. And we ‘upcycled’ our old pews into beautiful movable pews, enabling us to use the church flexibly, ensure social distancing, and open up our space to a wide range of events, from contemplative services to concerts, plays and exhibitions. A terrific new community resource!
Central to this transformation has been our wonderful Verger, Pat Brandon, who many of you may remember as the former manager of Stems at Stong’s. During lockdown, she transformed our spaces: painting, repairing and redesigning. She even replaced carpet with slate in the church aisles, making sanitising much easier: essential in these COVID-19 Ames. As Pat admits, ‘It has been a hard slog, but a wonderfully creative one and the church looks amazing!’ Pat is a creatve whirlwind!
Creativity is a mark of our identity as created beings. We are called to reflect the creativity of God in whose image we are made. At the heart of creativity is the ability to wonder: to re-imagine ourselves and our world in a different way. I think COVID-19 is making many people wonder right now. Queuing outside Stong’s, one woman told me that lockdown had made her question her priorities in life. Her world had become so ‘cluttered’ before the pandemic, never having enough time for her relationships with her partner or their children. Lockdown made her realise how much she loved spending time together as a family, having time to think and to reconnect with nature.
What she describes is what Jesus called metanoia – often horribly translated by the Church as repentance; it actually means a conversion of the mind. And she is not the only one who is re-imagining life and questioning their priorities. This truly is a time of spiritual renewal for many.
Perhaps this explains why we are seeing greater numbers than usual watching our online services as people wonder and reimagine a more spiritual life. In one month alone, we had over 750 views of our worship services on YouTube. We, too, are wondering as COVID-19 makes us think differently about how we are church and how we stay connected.
In a world struggling with a pandemic, racial injustice, and the emergency of climate change, it can feel hard to imagine how to bring about positive change. Yet, Jesus constantly taught that positive change is brought about by the spreading of tiny seeds of hope.
As the remarkable teenage activist Greta Thunberg reminds us, ‘We do need hope, of course we do. But the one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere.’ Whether reconfiguring the church to do new things for the community, or reconnecting deeply with our loved ones, or even wearing a mask to protect others – all are acts of defiant hope and tiny seeds of positive change sown towards a new reimagined normal. Love and prayers to all our friends in Dunbar.
The Rev’d Stuart Hallam
Rector, St Philip’s, Dunbar
Office 604 224 3238