Life in Melbourne this week feels heavy. Like wading through mud. In the words of the Victorian Premier last Sunday, "To extend lockdown arrangements will be hard and crushing news for the people of Victoria,” and he was right. It is.
Crushing for business owners, already pushed to their limits. Crushing for the elderly, mentally ill and vulnerable of our society. Crushing for families facing months more of online learning. The roadmap to a COVID normal now clearly laid out, now seems to loom overhead, like a dark cloud.
Our news feeds reveal the political divide. Confined to their four walls, the Facebook wall has now become the place where people vent their anger, relief, frustration, sadness and unrest.
What do we do with all this? How do we keep being the church - the pure and spotless bride of Christ. How do we bear with one another in love, tending to this part of the body - that feels particularly broken and wounded at this time. The words of Hebrews 12 come to mind:
"So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”
As we seek to be a City on a Hill, a unified movement of churches, who model ourselves on the life and love of Jesus, I wanted to share three things you might like to consider in caring for your brothers and sisters in Melbourne in the months ahead.
GIVE MORE GRACE
As we all can read, there are many opinions out there at the moment. As you read, and if you choose to interact in these conversations do this with wisdom and grace. Take a moment to read between the lines and remember, these are your brothers and sisters speaking who are hurting right now - each in their own way. We must choose our responses wisely and prayerfully. Listen for what the Spirit would have you say, and give an extra helping of grace.
PRAYER, NOT PLATITUDES
As we speak to people who are suffering, it will be tempting to try to give platitudes: “well, at least the weather is getting nicer.” “It’s great that single people now get to have a friend to visit”. “You will look back and realise what a special time this was as a family.” There is a time and place for optimism, but right now if someone confides in you, they are trusting you with their raw emotions and as such we must be wise stewards of our words. Let’s meet them in that place with prayer, not platitudes. If you aren't sure how to pray, the Psalms are a great place to go!
A WORD TO THOSE OUTSIDE OF VICTORIA
A word now to those who are seeking to love and care for to their brothers and sisters in Victoria from another state. As already mentioned - be mindful and prayerful about what you post about on social media. For some, seeing your every day life will bring hope of “better days ahead”, for others - this may seem insensitive, and potentially create unnecessary barriers.
We know people are spending more time on their news feeds than ever before, so let’s work hard to make this a space for ministry rather than misery. For all of us right now, the best thing we can be talking about, sharing about and celebrating is the hope and unity that we have in Christ - whatever our circumstances.
After completing a nursing degree in 2007, Alice joined a small team with a big vision to plant City on a Hill Melbourne. 12 years, 6 churches and many role descriptions later, Alice now serves as Executive Assistant to the Senior Pastor at City on a Hill with a key role in developing, driving and delivering peak goals and strategies for the City on a Hill Movement. Alice is compelled by Paul’s vision of the church as a body in Ephesians 4, and gets excited at the thought that God uses ordinary people to reveal the beauty, truth, and relevance of Jesus. A perfect day in Alice’s life looks like: coffee and quiet time in the morning, brunch with friends, a run in the afternoon, followed by cheese, gin, and knitting in the evening!