19/01/2022 Band practice devotions

On Wednesday night at band practice, our devotions were provided by David Ferguson. We’d like to share these with you today.

Both at work and in my private life I am finding the same question being asked on almost a daily basis.

When will things return to normal??

I am sure it is a question you either ask or have asked.

The last 24 months or so we have been understandably Covid focused. Who would have thought three years ago that a global pandemic was going to hit us like it did. All the modern medicines and technological advances we have created and over 700 years since the Black Death swept Europe we were initially unprepared to stop it.

Everything we knew came to an abrupt stop. Prisoners in our own homes while governments and medicine tried to get to grip with it all.
Church and worship only by ZOOM. Workers furloughed or working from home where possible. Allowed out for an hours exercise.

As it evolves into an epidemic isn’t it amazing how our lives have changed.

Our social lives, work lives and church lives are still curtailed.

We wear masks daily going about our business.
We are careful visiting family and vulnerable people in-case we spread it.
We think twice about jumping on a plane or going overseas in general.
We socially distance at every opportunity. We don’t hug or shake peoples hands like we naturally did before.
We are being mass vaccinated…..with more to come.
We have restrictions on sporting events, large meetings, theatre, cinema and live music.
We still have so many people still working from home and many schools offering blended learning.
We are sticking cotton buds up our noses at an alarming rate on a daily basis.
We are finding testing kits at home, in the car, at our places of work and not batting an eyelid.

I cannot see Normal for some time…..it will be about the NEW normal !!

Work and family has already started to evolve, and we are functioning differently. It can be a bit unsettling and scary but we are doing it.

As I drive into work in the mornings the news and discussion channels on the radio are always pushing the experts to try and say what the new normal will look like, but of course they cannot be drawn. When asked by Dorothy to do band devotionals I started to think again about our normal, and look at our church and our witness within the Band.

The enforced stop we had to endure became an unplanned circuit breaker. A chance to review our service, our worship and to start to prioritise. The leadership team here in Bellshill have been doing this.

The Church in general is having to look at itself closely, and really understand mission….because that is changing.

We are hugely fortunate in Bellshill that we have started to adapt, and that so many of our pre-Covid friends and congregations have returned….and wanted to return. However, live streaming services following all the ZOOM meetings and band recordings has been a positive progression and wide spreading outreach that is here to stay.

We hear of less fortunate congregations and musical sections that have been decimated by the lack of desire to return. It makes me wonder if rather than people just finding something else to fill their time, that people did not want to return to the old ways.

I came across two books I had forgotten about during lockdown, that I had when I first became a Salvationist. “The General Next To God” and “No Discharge in This War”. What a heritage for us to proudly take forward.
When I hear stories of the old old ways I am stunned at our predecessors commitment. Army every night of the week, March of witness and Saturday night meeting. Three meetings on a Sunday interspersed with open airs and more marches. WOW !!

December 2020 was surreal for us. Think back to all the carolling we would normally do. One or two concerts a week. Hospital and old folks home visitation……. Then suddenly ….nothing. At least we had tried to keep our community together with ZOOM meetings, quizzes and Sunday services, but many had not.

Was the desire of those Corps and bands just to get back and pick-up where they had left off? Did that not resonate with where those individuals found themselves in the rest of their lives?

When we see Community Church sign on the side of our buildings, the community is about location but is more about feeling. Feeling they are part of our community and feeling they are valued.

The Army is only effective if we are God-led, prepared to evolve but keep mission front and centre. Although God and his love and message does not change, the society we work and live in does and we need to reassess and evolve, otherwise the message will fall on deaf ears.

During lockdowns there was loads of jokes going about around families ready to kill each other being stuck in each others company 24/7 for months on end. The flip side was an appreciation of what we had and what we valued in our lives.

As an Army at least we are starting to question and challenge, but I’m all too aware that there can be a reluctance for a variety of reasons. Big global organisations and governments can move at a glacial pace, but this pandemic has shown that with the right motivation quick change can happen.

You are hearing about Corps discussing uniform wearing, open sections, running food-banks, breakfast clubs, employment support, alcohol support, drug support and rehabilitation. And a lot of this we are looking at here as well. There is a need in our local communities that has not been stronger.

During that first lockdown there was a community spirit. We were all in it together clapping the NHS with our neighbours on a Thursday night.

However the divides are still there. The have and have-nots. Societies problems are still there and possibly magnified as never before. Poverty and abuse still there. Loneliness and despair still there.

I still believe that Church and the Army’s part in it are still as necessary as ever. Love, care, empathy, community and Hope are fundamental in the message we should be giving to all, both inside and outside our four walls.

I really believe that now is a pivotal part in the history of the Army, and closer to home…… our Corps and Band. I’m only a lowly EFlat player so don’t have the answers, but felt heavily on my heart that I needed to share it. So sorry if my devotions are a bit low key.

However my challenge to myself and to each of us is to pray on it. I’m bad at that as I am a busy fool for most of the time.

We need to pray and listen.

We need to pray that we remain relevant.

We need to pray that we become a shining beacon in this community and not a niche closed shop.

We need to value our church community and build and strengthen those relationships. Once we do, imagine how attractive it will be to those outside looking in. Imagine how receptive they will be to the message we have to share with them.

We are very blessed with what God has given us here in Bellshill.

As a Christian church we need some major changes. We need to evolve and move forward no matter how difficult or unsettling it might be. Acknowledge our predecessors and origins but not be unadaptable and shackled by them.

The Army is not perfect and neither are we !!

However God is !!

This is potentially an exciting time to reassess our relationship with God, to trust him, to pray and to listen.

Change is happening and needs to happen. The God that inspired William Booth to found this church is the same, and sees the same needs.

Saved to Serve is still relevant in 2022.

I will leave you with two bible versions to ponder:

𝘗𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘱𝘱𝘪𝘢𝘯𝘴 4:6
𝘋𝘰 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘣𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘹𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯, 𝘣𝘺 𝘱𝘳𝘢𝘺𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘱𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬𝘴𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘎𝘰𝘥.

𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘣𝘴: 3:5-6
𝘛𝘳𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘯 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘰𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨.
𝘐𝘯 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘸𝘢𝘺𝘴 𝘴𝘶𝘣𝘮𝘪𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘪𝘮, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘴 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵.

David Ferguson

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