This situation might give us cause to pause and reflect on the lives of our churches in both parishes here too. Spoke and Co was, of course, located in what had been the Lady Bay Methodist Church: a church that had closed. The Christian presence in both our parishes has been longstanding — nearly 120 years for All Hallows’ and nearer 900 at St Edmund’s — but neither longevity nor apparent success can guarantee that anything will last forever. There is a sense in the conversation around Spoke and Co that people are asking: how can we replace what we’ve lost? Will the same questions be asked if either of our churches cannot remain open and active? The buildings will most likely go on in some way, but what future is there for the fragile Christian communities that make their homes in those buildings?
These are questions for us who are members of these churches but they are also questions for the wider community, as well as for Christians living in Lady Bay who make their spiritual home elsewhere. Is it important to the residents of Holme Pierrepont and Lady Bay that there is an active Christian community here? What purpose does that community serve? How can that presence be sustained and even thrive? Like Spoke and Co every day, those churches will be bustling and full at some of the services over Christmas. That in itself is no guarantee that the church can continue to be there.
Of course, I’ve made no mention yet of God in all this. As we think about the Christmas story we meet God — full of life, yes — but also fragile, vulnerable and weak. Perhaps in the seasons of Advent and Christmas, as we prepare for and then celebrate God with us, we can be inspired to see our vulnerability as a gift, rather than a flaw. Perhaps like the infant Christ we too will need to depend on others for our survival, security and growth. And like Christ in that very vulnerability we can witness to the love of God in our community.