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Churches Together in Medway: column by the Rev Dr Helen Burn, vicar of St Justus, Rochester

In a weekly church column usually published in the Medway Messenger, the Rev Dr Helen Burn, vicar of St Justus, Rochester, looks forward to a time we can celebrate.

I wonder how you are feeling as we begin to take some more cautious steps out of lockdown? Like me, you may have a whole mixture of emotions. I am personally pleased, for example, to be able to go back into the church building where so much love, prayer, and worship and community gathering has taken place over the years.

We're all looking forward to getting together again. Stock photo
We're all looking forward to getting together again. Stock photo

But I know that not everyone will feel safe to come back yet, and I am sad to think that the limit on numbers means that we won’t be able to be there all together for many months.

In his letter to the Christians in Corinth, St Paul picked up and adapted an image that was popular in his day. He compared the church to a body, where every part is vital to the whole, however insignificant it may look. No part is useless. The eye can’t say to the foot, ‘I don’t need you,’ and the ear can’t tell the leg that it isn’t needed because it’s not an ear.

Not only that, but St Paul says that when one part suffers, all the other parts suffer too. We know that’s true – those of us who have had toothache during lockdown and not been able to get to a dentist will vividly be aware that a tiny tooth can cause the whole body to feel miserable.

Paul also says that when one part rejoices, the rest rejoice with it. In other words, to stretch the image, we all need each other, we are all part of each other.

If someone is hurting or missing, all of us in some way share that suffering. When someone celebrates, we all share their joy. We have been discovering during this pandemic how interdependent we are. Ultimately we are connected to the God who made us, and to our fellow human beings. For Christians, it is Jesus who enables us to understand this and to live accordingly.

So this week I will pleased to be able to visit people in their gardens again, and to meet outdoors for a takeaway coffee. But I am aware that not everyone can do that yet. I won’t be celebrating wholeheartedly until every lonely person is befriended, everyone without a home has a place to call their own, every person who has lost a job has found a way to contribute and feel their work is valued. Only then will it feel like time for a party we can all share in.

If you would like to find out more about what it means to become a Christian, please contact the Churches Together in Medway chairman, Pastor Stephen Bello on 01634 920491 or email rccgvictoriousfamily@hotmail.com. You can also click here.

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