I don’t know about you but for me it has felt like we’ve all been sailing through the same storm and although we have not got to the ‘getting back to normal’ part yet, we find ourselves needing to step into a new phase - and it doesn’t come without its worries and its woes.
Lockdown is being eased slowly in some regards and quickly in others and you may be feeling like its too slow because normal needs to come back now or too quick and that there’s not enough time to readjust in order to feel totally secure in all this.
I wanted to tell you a quick story about something seemingly impossible that worked because there was a Will and there was Faith.
A few years ago, my wife and I used to volunteer for a big Christian Conference. It would take over a Butlins holiday camp and thousands of people would come for a week of worship, bible study, and a bit of an Easter Break. We used to help run the Under 5’s provision. Looking after about 250 toddlers from 3mths old to just before their 5th birthdays for a week. We recruited volunteers to help us and we took over the nursery rooms usually used for happy campers to leave their children.
Every year we would get a visit from Ofsted and every year they would tour our provision flabbergasted: It just shouldn’t work!
Leadership not knowing their team, Team not knowing the children, Children not knowing the space or the adults, Parents not knowing the set up, the routine or the Leaders.
But every year it worked.
Because people willed it to work.
They prayed that it worked.
They gave their all that it would work and work well for the children and their families.
And we had adults who hadn’t worked with tiny tots before,
and young adults who hadn’t read stories or played trains since they were small.
We also had Butlins Security Staff sent to work with us too - as there was so little to do for them – and these, quite often, big muscley guys who could herd crowds of drunk guests, were frightened of playing with playdoh or blow bubbles in case they got it wrong.
And people were worried that it wouldn’t feel the same as what they normally did in their normal Sunday schools. And people worried that the adults they normally worked beside weren’t going to be there. And people worried that they wouldn’t settle or the children wouldn’t settle or something wouldn’t settle.
But the Will and the Faith was there.
And this new phase of school life feels a little like those days at Butlins.
Being given a bubble to work around for the first time, a routine to work in for the first time, a group of children to work with for the first time.
And we can’t just all kick off where we left off.
And we can’t just ignore the obvious – the elephant in the room, the virus – and the worries that we have.
But we have strengths to get through this. Strong enough to get over the ‘it just shouldn’t work’.
We need to Will it to work.
- Put our heart into what we’re doing knowing that every smile we show and every thumbs up we give is a blessing to someone who needs it…because they’re sad, or scared or unsettled.
- We need to think creatively about creating spaces that feel safe – regardless of distance and cleanliness and what the rest of the world seems to be doing.
- What makes it safe? An unconditional love for each child and adult. Ownership in the space, personal pride in their place, their identity in the group and their place in the class.
- Start the day with a smile or laugh. Start the day by sharing something you’re happy about or grateful for. The sun in the sky, something nice at home that’s planned for dinner, a wave from a friend, nice clean clothes that make you feel like you’ve got somewhere to go and something to do.
There will be time to offer space for those who want to share their darker moments. And those elephants in the room can be safely handled too by us too.
Because our strength comes from being part of US…
Being part of a team that has your back, that supports your work and loves the socks off you.
And your strength comes from the FAITH we have in a God that sends His Spirit to give us the gifts that we need when we need them. Words that are enough, Love that is enough and Strength that is enough.
And those of us who cannot be with you will be willing it to work for you.
And those of us who cannot be close enough to pat you on the back will be praying for you.
And those of us who cannot wait for you to succeed, will be ready to celebrate with you.
So I hope today that you will hear a strong message today that your team is ready for you to take to the pitch and play a blinder.
And I know that God will be with us in the days and weeks ahead as we seek to bless others and soothe the anxious hearts around us.
God Bless You and May God go with you. Amen.