Jane Leadbetter, Messy Church BRF team member, led the Messy Facebook Live! On Wednesday 12 August. Jane says:
Last time I was on Facebook Live! we were hearing about some countries easing on lockdown, like New Zealand, and others returning to lockdown, like Melbourne in Australia and Leicestershire in the UK. Today we hear of the city of Auckland, in New Zealand, back in lockdown. We also have restrictions back in Preston, in the north west of England and Aberdeen in Scotland. Three counties of Ireland have also re introduced lockdown measures. Our prayers are with everyone as necessary measures are taken to manage this Covid-19 situation. It must be so difficult to accept yet more change when you are just getting used to visiting your family and friends after so long and in New Zealand, attending church face to face.
Change. Does anyone actually like change? What is it about change that makes us feel so uncomfortable? Well, I want to spend this short time with you chatting about change, mental health and wellbeing.
To help us, here is a Bible verse we have heard a lot, read a lot and sung a lot! Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 verses 1- 8
Everything has a season. There is a time for every matter in life. In verse eleven, we are reminded that ‘He has made everything beautiful in its time.’ Each activity is for the right time, bringing about God’s purposes. What a privilege it has been to be part of God’s purpose at BRF over these past ten years. Yes, in two weeks’ time I will have worked with Lucy, Messy Church and BRF for ten years! As many of you know, I am soon to be entering my time of retirement.
Today is Messy Dave Martin’s last day with us on the Messy Church team. It is a really sad day. I do hope you have had chance to view the short video he made last week. You can find it on the Messy Church facebook page. Also do read his blog about Messy hindsights which you can find on the Messy Church website.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic BRF, a small Christian charity so very close to it’s centenary, is having to make difficult changes. In a very short season Dave has made huge contributions to the Messy Church team. He has certainly upskilled little old me! He has many skills and God given talents, some of which we haven’t yet had time to discover in this short season with him. Thank you so much Dave. We are really going to miss you.
Some of you know about how Messy Lucy and Messy Martyn, Martyn Payne, began their time with BRF in the Barnabas in Schools ministry. Imagine being a school inviting Lucy or Martyn to arrive and bring the Bible to life for school children and teachers! Awesome! This BRF ministry has been popular for many years with an excellent team delivering Bible themes, stories and RE days around the UK. But the Covid-19 pandemic has meant a shift in opportunities to work with schools and Barnabas in Schools will not be viable and so will come to a close at the end of this academic year.
In September Lucy will be sharing more changes. Are you feeling uncomfortable? Can we cope? Are you experiencing changes in your lives, wherever you are?
We know that God has further purposes for Dave, and for me and for BRF. We know that God never changes, and we are called to enjoy life in the present, with him. But what about that feeling of being uncomfortable or anxious?
When I was on Facebook Live! last month I sensed a need to start a Messy Church Pinterest Board about Wellbeing. You shared so much in your comments and emails about your Messy circumstances that you gave me a pastoral prompt, so, I have started it! After some discussion we have called it Mental Health & Wellbeing and it is board number forty in our Messy Church Pinterest boards! I can’t believe it!
There are some good organisations and resources out there. You will find some familiar resources but hopefully there are new ones to discover.
I wonder? Where is your happy place? It may be a beach or a mountain top somewhere. Or it could be when you are asleep or daydreaming on a bus journey. It could be when you are in someone’s company.
Here is one idea which I discovered when creating this board.
During lockdown have you developed routines or daily patterns which help you?
Physical fitness challenges have been popular during lockdown. You may be watching someone online who is suggesting your individual fitness challenge, or it could be a family lockdown challenge such as five-minute workouts or learning to hula-hoop. Certainly, in the Scout Association we are still cooking up fun fitness ideas for all ages to try at home. But, did you know that if your body does regular and repetitive activity, like walking the same route every day for exercise, your body doesn’t take in things but becomes automated. Say, you drive your car along the same roads to work each day, after a while you stop noticing anything different. Familiarity is also a common cause for accidents.
How about trying different walking/cycling/driving routes or trying different routines at home. Invite your brain to look for different things each day. Apparently, the benefits are huge. So, my challenge to you?
Do you work from home? If you do work from home, do you walk to work? No really…if you do work from home, after you have showered, eaten breakfast, put out the bins, read your daily Bible Reading notes…do you walk to work (your desk/table/laptop) or just pull up a chair? Try a walk around the block or across the park before you start work. You could include a chat with God whilst doing this. Look for the differences in God’s wonderful nature each season. Collect a bag full of litter along the way. As I explored a wealth of mental health and wellbeing stories, to research for this new board, I heard about a man who regularly travelled the same route as he exercised each day and had never noticed a kangaroo in a field! And this was in an English suburb! How many different routes could you discover in one week? Making changes to your routine is a healthy thing to do.
Change. Another routine you may have developed during lockdown is becoming more aware of nature and caring for God’s planet. It could be that you have started to grow vegetables or joined a virtual gardening club. Maybe your interest in local birds has increased. For me it has been ‘Springwatch’, a british TV programme and the ‘Self-isolating bird club’, an online opportunity to share and learn more about animals and birds. My wellbeing grows enormously each time I hook up to these two virtual groups. Of course, connected to these and my own daily life routines is recycling and the plastic issues. Have you checked how much plastic has come through your home today? Could it be how your bread was wrapped? Or your pet dog treats? Or another charity bag which came through your door? Or finishing that box of chocolates you so enjoyed? Have you double checked how any of this can be recycled? Here in Liverpool none of this plastic is recyclable. Only the plastic which is bottle shaped like shampoo, detergent and kitchen cleaners, lemonade and drinks bottles, for example. Plastic which can’t be recycled, and there is plenty of it, goes in the general waste. Or you could try a new routine in your life and try not to purchase so much food which is heavily wrapped in plastic. Change the world pollution statistics by making a small change to your regular routines.
Enjoy viewing the Mental Health & Wellbeing Pinterest board. Send me any links I can add for you. As always, it is work in progress.
Before I finish, I just want to highlight a recent document which we have placed on the Covid-19 section of our Messy Church website. It is a document of suggestions to help those of you in the Church of England, in England, thinking of returning to face to face Messy Church. Don’t panic! No rush! Only if you wish to explore the idea. Please check government guidelines first and guidelines from your own denomination. But do they mention a role description for a Loomeister?
Thank you and stay safe.