Written by Revd Russell Winfield, Dean, St Mellitus College
September traditionally marks the beginning of a new academic year, and for many of us that remains true. Yet this year feels so very different. I was speaking with my nephew the other day who had just turned 14, and he was genuinely excited for returning to school. This did not feel like a normal response for a 14 year old, but then he has not been there since March and six months have passed. Absence – it would seem – does make the heart grow fonder. It got me thinking about the things that I long for and the experiences I have missed. But I also reflected on the good that has happened over recent months, and the new ventures and ideas that have emerged.
One thing that is new is SMC Connect first launched as lockdown began with a desire to be a resource “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). We did not quite know if it was wanted or needed, but we knew we had a library of incredible content and a team producing, publishing and podcasting more each month that deserved a wider audience. Our tag line is “think deeply, reflect on your faith”. These are not always easy conditions to find … ours is a culture that does not offer or reward space for deep thinking. Yet the response has been overwhelming, and what began as a short term solution has now become a permanent monthly fixture.
The rest of this year remains unknown in so many regards. The desire to physically interact and meet is strong. Many churches have tentatively begun to gather, and it may just be that as we do a new normal emerges where nothing is ever taken for granted again. Alongside this, some of the new regular realities (Zoom for instance) appear here to stay. That feels no bad thing. But absence has made my heart grow fonder. I look forward to seeing students again in-person, to gathering in church, to removing the mask both literally and metaphorically. The Apostle Paul in his letters seems to often remark on his desire to be gathered again with a particular community (Romans 1:11, Philippians 1:8, 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18, 2 Timothy 1:4). It is human to miss people.
The challenge I face, and I would want to share with you, is to work out your new normal for the rest of this year. What is good from the past few months that you would want to carry forward. And what does your heart long for that you can bring before God in prayer.
SMC Connect is an exciting new resource from St Mellitus College to help you think deeply and reflect on your faith. Each month we send a lecture, GodPod and reflection from one of our team to help resource you. As well as exciting information on what is upcoming at St Mellitus and SPTC. You can sign up here.
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