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Sundays at Church by the Bay

By Gerry Straker, 21 Jul 2021

Sundays at Church by the Bay

What will Sundays at Church by the Bay look like now?

On Friday 16th July the government released updated guidance for Churches. But before we look at what that means for Church by the Bay, let's step back and consider the new command Jesus gave us. 

Love one another

As we asked at Prayer Tea on 11th July: what does it mean to love one another? And we said it doesn’t necessarily mean what we think it means. It’s not as straightforward as: because we love one another we should all continue to wear masks. As there are reasons why that may not be loving, for instance: 
  • Continuing to wear masks continues to make communication difficult;
  • Continuing to wear masks might not help people take steps to get back to normal.
But on the converse, it’s also not as straightforward as: because we love one another we should all remove our masks. As there are reasons why that may not be loving, for instance: 
  • Expecting everyone to remove masks may not be kind to those who are vulnerable;
  • Expecting everyone to remove masks may not be kind to those who are worried.
The command to love one another is a command to joyfully consider others. We can't use love one another either to get what we want or even to give what another person wants  - without consideration, including the impact on the Church. 
 
All this is to say that loving one another is complex. But it is also glorious. Navigating through these uncharted waters might be taxing and complicated but it can be beautiful – even the process of working it all out: carefully thinking out how to love different people and put them first is part of loving one another!
 
And so loving one another will mean things like:
  • Not forcing our views on others;
  • Doing all we can to be considerate;
  • Making sacrifices to do that.
Loving one another also means
  • Accepting that others are happy to move out of measures;
  • Doing all we can to help other people do that;
  • Making sacrifices so that others can do that.
Loving one another is complex and glorious, as the people of God work out what it means to love different people with very different views. 

Next Sunday

So with that in mind, here’s what Sunday 25th July will look like at Church by the Bay. All the way through this painful time we have followed the government advice and now is no different, and we have also been very keen to obey the commands of the Bible about meeting together as best we can.   
 
  1. We are no longer booking in in advance (and huge thanks to those who have been planning and setting up the bubbles for a year!), but we will still keep a record of attendees. 
     
  2. Masks are not required at any stage - it will be so nice to see faces and be able to hear people! But you are welcome to wear a mask to help you come to Church. If you're not wearing a mask but talking to a mask-wearer it would be kind to put one on for that conversation. So we'd encourage you to bring a mask in your pocket. 
     
  3. We will not be requiring socially distancing. But you are free to keep social distancing if you would like to. Chairs will be in rows that are spaced out carefully. If you would rather sit further away from others there will be an area of chairs with extra spaces. 
     
  4. The Hall will be well ventilated with doors and windows open. 
     
  5. We will be singing! We can't wait to obey the command to sing, on a Sunday morning when we gather. Praise God! 
     
  6. Hand sanitiser will be freely available and it would be kind to others to make the most of it. 
     
  7. There is freedom to shake hands and touch. (Remember that for Jesus, touch was so important, as was touching Jesus. Touch is very important in the Church (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14)). It's up to you. If you are ready, be kind and go gently. If you are not ready be kind and say no gently. Why not decide in advance what you'll do and even practice offering gently or practice declining gently. Let's take care in how we offer and how we say no. 
     
  8. Livestream will continue in a scaled-down form until the end of August. Nearly all our Church family are back and we hope no one will be tempted to go back home.  We are persuaded that gathering physically is significantly better for us spiritually. But we do have people who are or may have to self-isolate and are not allowed to come to Church so we will continue to provide this for a time. .  
 
We hope that all makes sense to you. Let me encourage you to embrace the complexity of loving one another, and to be willing to give your lives for one another as Jesus gave his life for us. Do be praying for the Church family...
 
Please pray for our Church
  • Not to be anxious; but to rest in Christ;
  • For gathering to be our top priority so we can sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to him;
  • For love and care for one another and our different views;
  • The hard work for each of us to work out what that looks like; 
  • Unity;
  • And praise God for the freedom to sing again!