We asked The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, where he hopes to see the Church on the other side of COVID-19 and into whatever the 'new normal' holds. The Archbishop has been a patron of CAP for a number of years and very graciously took time out of his busy schedule in order to encourage and inspire CAP staff and supporters.
We pray these words encourage and inspire you today.
Where do you hope to see the Church as it comes through this COVID period into the ‘new normal’, especially considering all of the uncertainty?’
‘Let’s start with that word uncertainty. Learning to live with uncertainty is part of being a Christian; Christianity is often depicted as a pilgrimage or journey. Abraham lived his whole life with uncertainty. Moses lived his whole life with uncertainty. Paul the Apostle never knew from one day to the next how long he was going to be around, let alone what was going to happen next.
One of the things we’re seeing in the country, and where we are called to be different, is uncertainty overload. This makes you rush to decisions to give yourself real certainty and predictability. They may be the wrong decisions, but you’d prefer to be certainly wrong than uncertainly right, and that’s really dangerous.
In Isaiah 32, in a wonderful preview of Jesus’ words, Isaiah talks about God as our stability and our treasure. It previews the idea that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also.
Years ago, I was on a retreat at a monastery. I was talking with a monk there about the Benedictine traditions, and how one of the key things they look for is stability. They take a promise of stability, of steadily seeking to get closer to Jesus. I said to him, “I’m in a job where I’m on an aeroplane every 10 days. How and where do I find stability?” He said to me, “Stability is not where you are. It is what is within you.”
So the first thing the Church needs to do in this situation is get hold of stability. I don’t think we’ve done that yet. We clutch on to the past, or we make decisions too quickly. That’s a challenge.
Secondly, through unpredictability we know God is bringing about something new. I think so many people are feeling like that at the moment. From COVID, something new is emerging, but we don’t know what that is or will be. We don’t know what the Church or the country will look like.
So are we going to hang on to what we know, or are we going to look for the kingdom of God at work, and get in there and work with God in that place? In the kingdom, and the places where God is working, we see the Spirit at work - and our job is to join in and be the person of Jesus in that place.
When I see wonderful things happening I think, ‘Praise God, how amazing that the kingdom is at work here. What can I do that is working alongside?’
‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.’ John 10:27-29
These words have challenged us which is why we wanted to share them with you. Firstly, remember that stability is not where you are (your situation/political environment etc.) but what is within you. Be sure to rely on God for your stability and not on the ever-changing world we live in. And secondly, be the person of Jesus where you see God and the Spirit at work.
Where can you see the kingdom of God at work in your day-to-day life, and how is God prompting you to get involved?