To repeat what has now become a cliché, we certainly live in unprecedented times. The challenge of COVID-19 has forced all of us to adapt to new ways of work and communication. The requirement of physical distancing and the restrictions on gathering has forced us all to become disconnected and, in some cases, discombobulated. However, to repeat another well-worn cliché, challenges often bring with them unexpected opportunities. When COVID-19 hit, it became clear to us that having a gathering to celebrate our 140th anniversary was out of the picture, a realisation which was sorely disappointing for us. Yet, with the success of our transition to online delivery, what we needed to do became clear!
Along with all of our lectures, our regular morning prayer sessions had been transferred to Zoom. Having already co-hosted a successful online webinar with St Peter’s Cathedral, it wasn’t too much of an extension to move our St Barnabas feast day festivities to fill the spot of a morning prayer session. And so, it was decided that we make Thursday June 11 a specifically St Barnabas day morning prayer.
And so when the day came, beginning at 9am, the service was officiated by the Principal, The Rev’d Dr Cathy Thomson, with readings done by St Barnabas staff: Maria Harrison reading Psalm 101, Dr Damian Szepessy reading Job 29: 11-16, Katrina Dal Lago reading Acts 11: 19-30, and the intercessions lead by The Rev’d Dr Don Owers. Cathy also took the opportunity to give an address entitled In the Footsteps of St Barnabas (Keep an eye out for the text of the address in the upcoming edition of the Guardian!).
It was somewhat humorous (and insightful) being present at an online event like this with over 30 people in the one “room” responding in their various individual environments – at home, in their offices, outside in nature and so on. Furthermore, due to the nature of the platform – the internet being what it is – all the respondents and participants of the service had to be muted lest a chorus of asynchronous voices chimed in all at once!
All these minor little quirks point to the fact that, of course, it does not replace physically meeting for worship in person, but it was (and I’m sure many people will agree) a reverent, prayerful and reflective time of re-connection and community.
Download a copy of the presentation here!