"Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17
As we approach Easter, the biggest event in the Christian calendar, I'm struck again by the power of the message of the Resurrection. Our world has been set in turmoil over the last year, and the anniversary of the first lockdown gives us an opportunity to reflect on quite how significant the impact of the pandemic has been on us. Now that the vaccines are rolling out and the schools have returned, many are tentatively thinking about what life will be as we emerge from the dark cave of lockdown, our eyes blinking in the unfamiliar light of freedom. The specialists call the season that we're entering the 'Recovery Phase', which would be followed (at soonest in after the summer) by the 'Reconstruction Phase'.
What does this look like for us at St Mark's? I believe that there are 3 main practices that we would do well to consider in this season:
Reflect - Before we charge back into starting everything again, rebuilding a new normal, it is important for us to take stock of what has happened over the last year. This is why the first thing we are opening the church building for is a space to do just that: Reflect (see below). What (or who) has been lost to us? What are we thankful for? What have we learned?
Reconnect - having been separated from one another for such a time, are there ways that we can renew and recover our relationships and connections within the church family, in the wider community, with colleagues?
Recover - as we do start to recover some of the lost ground, for instance by starting up our services in church again, we need to be aware that the world has changed around us, and that we will need to reimagine things that we once took for granted. As Jesus, put it, we need to "pour new wine into new wineskins". Heading int the summer term, New Wineskins will be the theme for our talks as we reimagine St Mark's and our mission in and for a post-pandemic world.
May the Lord bless us and all those we love this Easter with the Power of his resurrection Spirit to renew and restore us in his service.