What a year it's been! Who'd have thought that we were going to experience two lockdowns? Who could have imagined that our churches would be closed for so many Sundays?
And above all: who'd have thought that we'd be enjoying times of worship and sharing together via our various screens?
The Perspectives church in Langeais - like all other churches in France - went through all of this: it was surprising, strange, up-and-down, difficult, formative and so much more besides but happily, like so many other churches, we were able to see God at work in the midst of all this and, thanks to Him, we're doing well!
A FEW MEMORIES OF WHAT WE EXPERIENCED...
It was difficult for us here in Langeais to get used to online worship. We're a small church where fellowship, shared meals, long chats after services, board-game evenings, and so on are essential, so it was difficult when we suddenly went into isolation. It took us 3 weeks during the first lockdown before we got onto Zoom for online worship! But through this we've learned that our relationship with God is first and foremost personal, and that even though this relationship continues at Sunday services, it flows from our own individual engagement with the Lord. This personal relationship is absolutely crucial for the health of our faith and nurturing it has allowed many to refocus on God Himself rather than on other things. But again, the importance of fellowship is also something that emerged from this lack of regular in-person gatherings. While most of us had never known what it was like not to be able to meet together, this time of fasting from in-person fellowship reminded us of the benefits of gathering together, the importance of brothers and sisters, the joy of being a true family in Christ. So not everything about Covid has been bad!
The lessons mentioned are drawn from discussions with brothers and sisters in our church. We've been able to be encouraged in this period - thank you, Lord!
"I WAS BAPTISED IN 2020!"
What? Surely that was impossible due to lockdown! And yet, in September we had the joy of baptizing a woman from Langeais in a small lake near the church. It's true that at that time the first lockdown was over, so perhaps the baptism wasn't so extraordinary... But if I tell you that in February I didn't even know this woman, then her story becomes a little more unusual! She first contacted me by phone in March, during the first lockdown, to explain that she'd started reading the Gospels after one of her children had started asking questions… As a result of reading the Bible and of internet discussions with another sister, this lady asked to be baptised. In the middle of lockdown, while we weren't able to do any outreach, God was continuing to work in the heart of this woman. So, after discipleship training, we were able to baptise her, and all that remained was to say "Thank you, Lord"!
LEARNING INSTEAD OF COMPLAINING...
Although we've often moaned about this situation - and the reasons to complain are still very present today - it's honestly much better to try and learn from what we've been through. And I believe that there are important lessons to draw about things that have allowed us to refocus on what's essential and also to envisage a future that may be more difficult than what we've been used to, to think about this and to prepare for it. In any case, that's how we want to respond to this period in Langeais and, whatever happens, whether we're free or not, whether we're face-to-face or online, we want to live it with God!
To find out more about the church in Langeais: evangeliquedelangeais.fr