I’ve been quite surprised at how I have reacted to the recent lockdown. It’s been more disappointing than I realised. I keep trying to remind myself that we are so lucky and are so blessed (i.e. the relative freedoms the lockdown still affords us, especially in a beautiful place like Wollongong!), but the disappointment remains.

Even as I wrote a draft view from the pew couch (attempting to encourage you all), I found the tone was so negative! It seemed to reflect my frustrations. These times can certainly weigh you down.

But as I re-write, I praise God for the Zoom Prayer Summit I recently joined. God encouraged me in ways I did not expect, which I hope to encourage you with also.

To be honest, at times, the Prayer Summit was quite comical. Someone had a coughing fit in the background of one prayer. Often people accidentally interrupted as they commentated on their difficulty in muting, while some camera angles were quite creative.

I had a good chuckle, but overall I was so encouraged by people seeking to overcome IT difficulties or a lack of “tech-savviness” to gather as God’s people and pray. It was one of the most oddly encouraging things I have done all year. And the praying was also extremely good!

The verse I originally sought to encourage you with comes from Colossians 3:1 and says:

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

It was during the Prayer Summit that I realised there are so many people around us seeking the things that are above. Despite lockdown and difficulties, people are finding any means possible to gather and pray.

So let me encourage you as we keep connecting in different ways (even if they are frustrating or hard), it’s still a way to seek the things above. And it is a way to encourage others to do this too!

It can be a difficult challenge to lift our eyes to heaven when things can be so tough “down here”, but I pray God will help you to do that. And I thank God that at St Michael’s, while we may struggle to do this on our own, there are many around us that can help us do it together.

Jake Ashley, 7pm Congregation

Jake is doing a Ministry Apprenticeship with the Uni Bible Group, and together with his wife, Clare, head leads the Senior Youth Group at St Michael’s.