This coming Sunday is marked as Education Sunday. Harbour Churches have been faithfully praying for our local primary schools and working where we can, to offer whatever support we can during this time of pandemic.

I’d like to share with you part of an address given by Revd. Barbara Easton, Vice-President of the Methodist Conference to mark Education Sunday during these strange times…

2020 also raises questions for the long-term. If you are 60, the percentage of your life spent in lockdown could be between half and one percent. It’s manageable. But if you are 6, it is around 5 to 10%. The longer that the pandemic requires us to live restrictively, the greater the proportion of children’s learning about life that will have been acquired in ‘strange times’ – other people, kept 2 metres away from; facial expressions, hidden behind masks; grandparents, unseen and unhugged. Then there are the long-term economic consequences of the pandemic – statistics show that youngsters who complete their education in a recession take around 20 years longer to reach the levels of economic stability of other generations. Their worries about jobs, housing and life’s ordinary pleasures are compounded. The Black Lives Matter movement reminds us that, for some in our communities, these worries are an ongoing fact of life.

Does it have to be like this? The early days of the pandemic brought a sense that the world could embrace a better way of living – neighbours rushed to be, well, neighbourly and, as the roads emptied and the birds sang, the hashtag ‘nature is healing’ became popular. Reflecting on other tragedies in the year, social media became a place to #bekind. Yet, as things moved on, people rushed gladly back to fast travel, fast food and fast fashion. Being kind took its place alongside being stressed, angry,

judgemental…human… We have not yet become the people we were made to be.

One impact of this remarkable year is seeing the Bible in a different way: familiar stories have taken on a different resonance. The drama of the plagues and disruption of the exodus/wilderness (Ex. 14. 19-31) suddenly seems closer to our experience. Likewise, in Romans (Rom 14. 1-12) we recognise the dilemmas of the early church – able to create something entirely new and better, yet still claimed by the traditions of the past. The unforgiving servant, (Matt. 18. 21-35) like the people of God leaving Egypt, given the chance to wipe the slate clean but unable to take the opportunity to be new.

How can we embrace change when we are anxious and struggling ourselves? But how else will we step out into the Kingdom if it is not by embracing the chance to be a learning people in a time of change? In our children and young people, and in education, there is both hope and opportunity.

As a church family we continue to pray for those who have asked our prayers:
Clive, Derrick, Judy, Judith, Derek Angela and Mark, Baby Rupert and Mum Kate and Dad Sam.

We pray too in thanksgiving for the life of Sue Keeler RIP.

Ever Living God,
whose only Son has opened for us
a new and living way into your presence:
give us pure hearts and steadfast wills
to worship you in spirit and in truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

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