Letter from Jamie and Linda
Dear Vineyard family
Linda and I hope that this letter finds you well and adjusting to the lockdown situation that we all find ourselves in. This is a season of navigating change, the first couple of weeks of lockdown were always going to be stressful learning how to adjust in regards to work, family, home life etc. For some of the younger ones in our families it might have been a time of excitement and change not fully understanding what was happening around them. These next couple of weeks we will probably find ourselves having to process other emotional shifts such as boredom, frustration and worry.
It is always a helpful reminder to be aware that there are things we can do to help us through this change until we develop Rhythms to enable us to cope and flourish.
So, if you are experiencing a hard time just now, here are a couple of practical things you can you do that I have found helpful.
1. Accept that ‘uncertainty’ is as anxiety-provoking as the disease itself. Try to stop yourself worrying about the future and try to stay present in the moment. It may sound easier said than done, but remembers Jesus invitation to attend to today but leave tomorrow alone (Matthew 6:34).
2. Give yourself a break from the media. Many anxiety sufferers are hoping to get reassurance from the media that; ‘everything is going to be alright’. Instead they constantly trigger themselves. I have read some totally sensational headlines over the last couple of weeks that would make good movie titles. Accept that the media are trying to sell newspapers, they are not always going to give you a sensible overview of what is happening.
3. You may need to physically isolate but you don’t need to become isolated. Chat to friends and family as much as you can through phones and apps but don’t spend all of your time talking about the illness. You may choose to use a capsule technique and decide that you aren’t going to talk about Covid-19 for more than 30 minutes a day.
4. Press into God in prayer. God is with you and he has promised never to leave you. Try to make every consideration about this illness a prompt to speak to your heavenly father. Ultimately your life is hidden in his. Whatever happens, your life is secure in him. Read the amazing promises of Psalm 91 if you want a god place to begin your prayer time.
So, if you can I would encourage you to go outside once a day. Fresh air and some physical exercise are always good for the soul. Just remember if you see anyone, please keep a good distance from them. If you can’t go outside, then exercise indoors, just make sure you keep moving.
Linda and I live in a small village just off the A77 surrounded by country lanes and fields. One of the changes for myself is being able to exercise once a day where we live, (so much of my life is spent in Glasgow, that I rarely have had the opportunity to explore my own back yard.) I’m really enjoying my daily walk with God around my area, as it is such a great opportunity to not only pray but listen and observe. This last week as I walked and prayed I was intrigued as I saw the daffodils and the trees and the hedgerows starting to bud, the birds gathering twigs for their nests the sheep in the field getting fatter as they carry their unborn lambs. All of a sudden, it was as if I was aware of things changing, that nature was preparing for new birth and we will coming into a season where things are about to come alive. As I reflected on this I was also reminded of the fact that we are approaching Easter this weekend and the promise of the Empty Tomb that speaks about recreation, and all things becoming new. My encouragement from the Lord this week as I took my daily walk with him was that regardless of our circumstances this is a time of Certain Hope that can only be found in Jesus. That this season of worry and concern will change just as in the nature that surrounds us will change. It was as if the natural was speaking of the invisible that this is a time of preparation for what will be as we come out of this crisis season.
I don’t fully know what that will look like, but I think many things that we took for granted in the past will have a higher value and greater appreciation once they are restored. The value of being able to meet physically with family members again, being able to physically meet again as a worshipping community is something I sorely miss. Perhaps we will have new work patterns and all kinds of fresh opportunities. I know I have certainly had opportunities to share my hope in Jesus and that more people are receptive to the gospel than they were before this crisis. In the meantime, I hold on to the expectation that although things might be tough right now, change will happen and this season will end hopefully for a better one. It is of great comfort to me that we have the Holy Spirit as our constant companion but also that we have each other if even at a distance for just now. You're small group leaders and our staff are doing the most amazing job of looking after us helping us to stay connected. In the words of an old war time song that brought hope to a nation "we will meet again."
As I previously mentioned this weekend is Easter Sunday, as part of our service during our small group zoom time, I would love if we could all take communion together. I have sent a WhatsApp message asking all our small group leaders to lead each small group in Communion this on Sunday. If you could have at the ready a bit of bread or a cracker and some juice or wine we can celebrate communion on Easter Sunday.
We love you lots
Jamie & Linda