Living with it - Living with new intentionality

Rev Peter Bovill

19.1.2021 | Congregational Life, Refined

Having moved out of 2020 into 2021 the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is still with us. Even though hope of the return of a greater normality is on the horizon, we still find ourselves ‘living with it!’ Rev Peter Bovill, minister of 1st and 2nd Islandmagee congregations, reflects on living with new intentionality.

As unique as our God created DNA, so I believe are our experiences in life. This rings true for me as I reflect over the last nine months and our individual experiences of living life with the impact of Covid-19.

Our unique personalities have responded to unprecedented change. We have all experienced a more isolated existence to varying degrees. The house has become not only a home but a place of work and education. At times we maybe thought we had hit a new stride, then things would shift again or worse, something happened that left us feeling the rug had been pulled out from under us.

In the midst of all this it has been more precious than ever to know we have a God who knows the number of hairs on our head and promises that he will be our mighty rock and refuge, no matter what life throws at us.

I imagine I am not alone in saying the last nine months have been challenging. I think I would have done okay with childcare, home schooling or work commitments on their own, but having them all on my plate at the same time tested my resolve!

We believe the God of the Bible is a God of purpose and plan, a God of transformation and fatherly love. What might God be teaching us? How might he be shaping us? How might he be leading us to live with a new intentionality as we continue to live through challenging circumstances at the beginning of another year?

Intentional about walking in trust and faithfulness

If we ever needed an example of what it means to ‘take a day at a time’ then surely 2020 is it. Repeatedly we have been surprised at the turn of events and the government decisions that have impacted our individual lives, church families and communities.

How do I respond when I feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or restricted? When I don’t know how things are going to work out, or when my plans lie in tatters in the bin? Hearing the words of the psalmist in Psalm 62 have been important for me.

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8)

I haven’t always achieved this and at times descended into self-pity or worry about the future, but I have known God’s grace in bringing me through thus far (1 Samuel 7:12). I pray that the daily habit of acknowledging my trust in God through Psalm 62 is a source of strength for the months ahead and might it be for you also.

The pandemic decimated our diaries. From our church ministries to our social engagements, life in some ways has become quieter. I wonder did you find refreshment as we were forced to slow down and be reminded of those things of true value to us.

In our church life we were limited in what we could do and I believe the encouragement was to be faithful in the opportunities we did have to be God’s people in worship, discipleship, service, care and outreach. Faithful in the small things, faithful in the new things, faithful in the unnoticed things. 2020 presented us with an opportunity to display a quiet faithfulness as we trusted God. I wonder does 2021 continue to present that opportunity.

It has been encouraging when our normal ministry and mission has not been possible to see this faithfulness in action. Members of our church family stepping out in faith and using their spiritual gifts, discovering new found time and opportunity to bring blessing and encouragement to others. Might we not rush back to a busyness, filled with activity, where there is the risk we don’t see the individual, the situation or the opportunity to quietly and faithfully serve and trust God?

Intentional about treasuring and building Christian community

Blog_19_Jan2021.jpgIn the space of a few days last March the doors of our church buildings were closed and we lost the opportunity to meet together as a church family.

For many of us our church community is a rich source of encouragement, discipleship, worship, friendship, prayer, practical support, hugs and much more. As God brings us into his family through Jesus we discover the treasure that is God’s people. Maybe it was a treasure that we didn’t realise we had until we lost some aspects of it. Reading the New Testament we constantly see the importance of the personal relationships between brothers and sisters in Christ.

Reflecting back over 2020 I have benefitted from the best of Christian community through relationships in our church family. When life was more challenging they surrounded me and my family with love. We were shown practical love, care, patience and grace. In days when I wasn’t physically with them I knew that they stood with me in prayer and were only ever a WhatsApp message or phone call away. One blogger writes, “community is never found, only built.”

Often our church life is shaped around ministries, programmes, services and events with godly motives to disciple and reach out. However, 2020 has taken some of those things from us, or at the very least changed how we do them. I believe the importance of established Christian community has shone through.

As we continue to live with Covid-19, could the intentional building of a Christ-centred community focused on unity, love and humility (core themes of the ‘one another’ New Testament commands) be one of the foundations that helps to sustain us individually and as church families?

As lockdown experiences are unique, so too are our lockdown learnings. Maybe in pausing to reflect you too might choose to live with a new intention and focus. Walk in trust and faithfulness, treasure Christian community and play your part in the work of building it.

Rev Peter Bovill is minister of 1st and 2nd Islandmagee congregations.

This blog is part of the digital programme series, Refined, to help move our denominational conversation on from what was needed to initially respond to the Coronavirus pandemic, to seeking God’s leading and guiding for this next season of church life together.

Visit the Refined hub here.

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