There is a piece of engineering art in the Mercedes Benz Museum at Brooklands which shows a Formula One Car suspended in all its constituent parts. It is still obviously a car and each part, large or small clearly has a defined function and purpose although they are not connected in such a way as to enable it to move at all, still less win a race.
It occurs to me that this is a metaphor for the Church; that we are in a time of uncertainty and waiting to find our way. The shock in 2020 of first emptying our buildings and then closing our doors for worship and prayer, thus removing all our physical certainties, was like a slow-motion explosion into suspended animation and whilst a fair bit of former functionality is restored there is still a sense of struggling in no man’s land. All that we are and have been hanging breathlessly in the unanticipated gift of wait and see.
I think we all know in our hearts, much as we want to rebel against the knowledge, that church will never be the same as it was and that in truth, Covid merely accelerated what was already happening. We are still Christ’s church, His body, but a bit like a string puppet, uncoordinated, unskilled, uncertain how to take the next step. Yet in faith, courage and the power of the Holy Spirit firing creativity, we might start to move towards re-imagining and re-engineering what will be.
Even as we start to work out how to serve God’s people in what are distressing and terrible times for the world let us accept with perverse gratitude the chance to stop our perpetual motion; to pause and to seek God; to hang for a season moved only by His spirit and to watch and wait and discern His will. The Spiritual Certainties remain unchanged. How we arrange ourselves around them to serve the nation and our communities in Jesus’ name is the question for today. But this no reason to fear.
God will build His Church and the gates of Hades, will not prevail against it.
The Very Revd Sarah Brown,
Dean of Hereford