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From the minister... 

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Dear friends 
Another month, and another reflection on  Covid, working at home, church online and  Zoom… six months on from the beginning of  the lockdown, introduced in light of the first  wave of Coronavirus, many of us now feel  an increased sense of resignation as we  consider the realistic possibility of living with  the virus well into next year.

Our hopes of  returning to ‘church as normal’ for  Christmas have given way to a notional  aspiration of worshipping together in large  numbers by Easter. Having cancelled holidays in the summer just gone, we now wonder  what getaways will be possible in 2021. And, 
for many of us, the novelty of working at  home has long since worn off. 
 

It’s no surprise that this latest phase of this  crisis has introduced another new term to  our everyday conversations: ‘pandemic  fatigue’. Speaking in early October, Hans  Kluge, Europe Director for the World Health  Organisation, spoke of the ‘huge sacrifices’  made in an attempt to stop the spread of  the virus, which have come ‘at an extra ordinary cost, which has exhausted all of us,  regardless of where we live, or what we do’.  He went on to add that, ‘In such circumstances it is easy and natural to feel apathetic and  demotivated, to experience fatigue.’

Pandemic fatigue is a phrase which many of us are becoming increasingly familiar with. However, my guess is that many of us will not be aware of a word I came across recently that also gave expression to what we’ve been going through. In the early 5th century, John Cassian, a Christian monk and theologian, was among a number of those dedicated to the monastic life who complained about an emotion they described as ‘acedia’.

Those who committed themselves to living a life dedicated to God, but in isolation from others,  seem to have been especially susceptible to this  affliction. According to the American academic  John Plotz, ‘Acedia, also known as the ‘noonday  demon’, appears again and again in the writings  of the Desert Fathers from the fourth and fifth  centuries. Wherever monks and nuns retreated  into cells to labour and to meditate on matters  spiritual, the illness struck.’ 

The origins of this term come by adding a  negative ‘a’ prefix to the Greek word kedos,  which means ‘care’ or ‘concern’. We could think  of this state as a sort of weariness or apathy,  but it’s striking that, as noted by the Australian  Catholic writer Jonathan Zecher, those who  originally spoke of acedia didn’t think that it  impacted people who lived in community with  other Christians. Rather, acedia arose directly  out of the spatial and social constrictions that  a solitary monastic life necessitates. These  conditions generate a strange combination of  listlessness, undirected anxiety, and inability to  concentrate. Together these make up the  paradoxical emotion of acedia.’ 

I came across the word ‘acedia’ a few weeks  ago, and since then I haven’t been able to get it  out of my mind. Could it be that the emotion  experienced by those lonely monks centuries  ago is also a good description of what we are  going through right now, as we try to follow  Jesus but are starved of the sense of together ness and community we crave and long for? 

Church is not meant to be like this. We need the support of our brothers and sisters, which  means regular contact with them. We need fellowship, we need words of encouragement  supplemented by hugs from the fellow Christians who love us and are committed to walking  together with us. Worship songs should be sung in the company of many others who loudly  offer praise that joins with ours.  

Left unchecked, these feelings of weariness can come to dominate our perspectives on church  life. It’s hardly surprising that another unfortunate consequence of Coronavirus and the lock down has been a rise in cases of church conflict, a theme which has come up with increased  regularity in conversation with local and regional ministers. It’s all too easy to lose a sense of  proportion when we don’t have the regular meetings with each other which offer the chance  of a chat that provides encouragement or puts things into perspective.  

There are no quick fixes to these problems we are experiencing, no easy solutions as we all  face the winter with the prospect of continued restrictions on church life. However, I think  there are some steps we can take, some resolutions we can share, which might enable us,  together, to stand strong against the worst excesses of acedia and pandemic fatigue. None of  my ideas are original, but are rooted in the book of Romans which we’re currently studying in  SBC, specifically some pieces of advice Paul offers in chapter 12. What difference would it  make if we all agreed, together, to make a habit of the following actions? 

  • Let’s ‘be devoted to one another in love’ (Romans 12:10): Let’s remember that the  number one calling of Jesus on our lives is a calling to show love, including to our brothers  and sisters in church. What difference would it make if, every day, we made a priority of  showing love and care to one other person in our church, by writing that card, offering to  help with shopping or picking up the phone? 
  • Let’s ‘practise hospitality’ (Romans 12:13): We all recognise that hospitality isn’t easy in  the midst of rules of six and restrictions on mixing between households. But there is still  some scope for serving and helping each other. You don’t need to invite someone to your  home to give them a meal, could you just deliver it instead? 
  • Let’s look for ways we can bless and not curse (Romans 12:14): These are challenging  times for all of us. Church leaders are weary from disappointing people in a season when  none of us can get what we really want and not every issue can be resolved. The  temptation is always there to complain about what others are doing as we all deal with  our frustrations about the impact Covid is having on our lives. So when someone is  critical, can we resolve not to join in? When someone is frustrating us, can we resolve to  pray for them? When lockdown means that we innovate and do things differently, can we  celebrate that creativity and the best efforts of our fellow believers? 

These are small steps, but taken together I believe the impact could be highly significant, as we walk together into whatever awaits us  in the coming months.

Blessings Trevor 

Rev Trevor Neill, 08/11/2020
Glenys
Hello and welcome to our church. If you are a new visitor, we have a page for you to get to know us and learn more about planning a visit.
Click here to see more.

Planning your Visit

Welcome 

We’re glad you've chosen to have a look at our website, and hope you’re interested to find out more about Selsdon Baptist Church.

A church is primarily about people, and we are a friendly group of people who love God and live in Selsdon and nearby.

We have a church building on Addington Road, Selsdon, but at the moment we have only very limited use of the building because of the Covid pandemic. But that doesn’t stop us worshipping God – only we have to do it over Zoom and YouTube!

Most of us watch together at the same time (10 30am) on Sunday, and then join to chat and discuss on Zoom just afterwards.
We’d be delighted for you to join our YouTube worship, listen to the midweek reflections on YouTube, listen to the Ask the Ministers Podcast, or join the Zoom meeting.

Depending on the current restrictions level, there is the opportunity to join us to watch the YouTube service in the church building itself – check the service details for each Sunday for instructions.

If you’d like to find out more about us and about our Christian faith, please browse the website. The Blog page will give you a feel for our recent ideas and activities. If you would like to talk to someone, please fill out the contact form below for a chat.

Hopefully when the pandemic eases, you’ll be able to come and see what we’re like on a Sunday and at other events – watch the website to see what becomes possible and when.

You may find the following pages useful to read more about  us:

What we Believe
Baptism (we are a Baptist church!)
Latest News and Announcements (what’s going on at the moment)
Blog (what we’ve done recently)


 

Get in touch with us to find out more or if you would like to chat
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Leadership 

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Rev Trevor Neill   Rev. Denzil Larbi
Ministry Team Leader   Associate Minister with a focus on Evangelism
 
We hope that whoever you are, you will feel at home at our church.