Viewpoint from Norma Borrett 27/11/2020
Member of pastoral team, Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Story of the Ages
As fear of the pandemic continues to retract the boundaries of community, shrinking our collective experiences into ever smaller groups and spaces, even church (corporate by definition) has had to remould itself. The word ‘church’ derives from the Greek, ekklesia, an ‘assembly or gathering for a purpose’, though, after centuries, the word has become more associated with the building, palatial or humble, where believers gather to worship God. With assembly now prohibited for public health concerns and interpersonal connection stretched to breaking point, how can church – with the fellowship and purpose it embodies - be maintained across the social chasm?
While traveling abroad recently, I had to find a way to tell a children’s story at a joint church service for Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Adventist churches. I was in California with 8 hours and 5,456 miles between me and them. My husband, the pastor, had acquired the right technology to make it possible; while my friend and host, Joanne, offered me an outbuilding full of children’s books, accumulated over her 40-year career as school-district librarian. Bringing a story to the children was thus a joint endeavour, across time and space. More than a mere tradition (child-centred biblical teaching), the story is critical to drawing the children into the corporate worship experience. This inclusion translates as, ‘I see you; I know you; I love you; you are one with us’. The sense of ‘us’, and of our ‘belonging’ to each other, is at the heart of the community that God created and called his church.
When God wanted to bring the Story of the Ages to mankind, there was no Zoom-room or technological super-highway to bridge the divide. Separation from God because of sin meant permanent isolation for humanity. Mankind was hell-bound. Only Jesus Christ, God’s Son, could cross the chasm and connect us back to the Father by bearing in his body the sin that caused the isolation in the first place
Jesus, while on earth, declared this story through the life he lived: the miracles given, the prayers offered, the lessons taught, the parables illustrated, and the kinship established with young and old, rich and poor, Jew and gentile- everyone, everywhere. The story is simply known as The Gospel. Its invincible power knows no boundaries, transcending time and space. It unites us to the heart of our heavenly Father, now and for eternity
also published in the Great Yarmouth Mercury
Norma Althea Borrett
Norma Borrett grew up in a Christian family in Cardiff, Wales; spent 27 years teaching high school level English language, arts, and drama, first in Bristol and then in California. She currently lives in Suffolk and works in ministry alongside her husband who pastors the Adventist churches in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. She writes and edits for her church’s publications
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