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Opening statement at first virtual Rugby Breaking of Bread following Covid-19 restrictions 22.03.20

We should say a few words about the situation in which the world finds itself.
Brethren and sisters, not for 75 years, not since the second world war have the people of
this country faced a common challenge together like the one faced now.

Not just in this country either, all the world is in turmoil. The industry, the confidences, the
pursuits and the ways of life of mankind have been replaced by fear and uncertainty. Rich
and poor alike, all share the realisation that this world is indeed built upon feet of clay.

We know we must follow the Government guidance, not just because it is sensible for the
protection of health but also because it is scriptural to obey those that have the rule over
us. To disregard Government rules at this time would be to potentially bring the truth and
our brotherhood into disrepute.

Also, we know many of our brethren and sisters are medical workers and care workers –
and they are working harder than ever at this time so they will need our special support as
they care for us and those around us.

But we want to speak for a moment of our spiritual health.
The ecclesias were not designed to operate in this way – by remote link. If at all possible
we are commanded to come together and not to forsake the assembling of ourselves
together. Sadly, we cannot do so at present and, by some estimates, this situation could
continue for some considerable time. We should be under no illusions that this poses a
real challenge for us as an ecclesia and as a community.

If the people of this United Kingdom can follow Her Majesty’s advice and “come together
as one” – surely we can do this in our ecclesias with our wonderful shared hope.
We have a choice though; these events could either lead to a spiritual decline for us – or
we could allow them to lead to a revival.

A decline will come if we neglect to talk often one to another, if we think of this “social
distancing” as a holiday from the truth and from the work of the truth. If we omit to keep in
contact with those who are having to isolate alone. If we don’t “dial-in” to the Breaking of
bread, or the bible classes or the readings, or engage with the provision being made for
online substitutes for CYC and Sunday School. It will be a decline if we don’t answer the
call for help to staff all these online services.

We could, potentially, slowly drift away, or if not we ourselves we could watch others drift
away while we take no action. It would be a decline if we follow the advice of the world to
use our time at home on our own pursuits, watching extremely lengthy entertainment
series on our TVs, reading novels or perhaps even writing our own.

Let it not be so:
Instead let these circumstances lead to a revival for each of us individually, in our families
and Ecclesially. A revival of the love of the word of God where we read it and study it – to
put it into practice when we re-enter circulation in the world.

The scriptures record the lives of many people who too had a dramatic change in
circumstances and disruption to their daily lives, cut off from others in their ecclesia. All of
whom used their circumstances in the service of God: Joseph was put into prison, Moses
went out into the desert, Elijah was hidden by the brook Cherith and David dwelt in caves
and the mountains.

While our situation is not so dramatic, most of us do find ourselves working at home and –
if we have them – our children are at home with us. And the cessation of ecclesial meetings
drives home the point which was always true – we cannot rely on the ecclesia to teach our
children and young people, we have a responsibility to do it ourselves. Now that we are all
together at home every day, surely we can put in place daily habits and practices in our
houses where the word of God and prayer to our Heavenly Father is central to each day.
A regime that means that we read the word together and discuss its value so that it can be
an encouragement and a light to our paths in these dark times.
We can also perhaps reconnect by letter, phone call or any electronic means with those
with whom we have lost touch. To check in and see how others are doing and what we
can do to help.

We can use this time to witness and show our faith – to explain to those with whom we
may interact why we are not afraid as others are that this could be the end of society – for
we know God is in control, Christ will return and rule over all the nations from Jerusalem.
And to those who are afraid of the worst outcomes we can explain from the scriptures why
“we sorrow not” as others do because of our hope – a hope that could be theirs also.

When this crisis passes as we know it will, either by our Lord’s return or the virus
running its course, let us not look back with regret that we regressed spiritually
during this time, or that we did not take the opportunity afforded us to witness for
the truth, or that we did not look after those who are more spiritually vulnerable.
Let us not regret not taking the opportunity to regain our love for reading the word of God
with our families in our homes.

Because we may never again get another opportunity anything like this time to refocus, to
revive our minds and to rebase our lives upon that which is important. To remember
whose we are and whom we serve and remember that we are heading towards the
Kingdom of God.

Let us occupy ourselves then at this time of difficulty and until the return of our Master.

Watch video below – Click Image to play…

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