CategoryCovid 19

Cynhadledd Clerigion Bangor ☩ Bangor Clergy Conference


On Tuesday of this week (13.9.2021) the clergy of the Diocese of Bangor gathered together for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. It was my privilege to give the address.

As a team of clergy in the diocese, we had become accustomed to being together, worshipping together, as well as learning with and from one another prior to the pandemic. Whilst we have gathered together virtually over the last 18 months, it was good to be together as a clergy team again.

It gave us the opportunity to break bread and Word together, and to consider how we can refocus, be heralds of hope, and not be afraid of change as we lead our church communities out of this period of pandemic.

☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩

Dydd Mawrth yr wythnos hon (13.9.2021) ymgynullodd clerigion Esgobaeth Bangor am y tro cyntaf ers dechrau’r pandemig. Roedd yn fraint i fi eu hannerch.

Fel tîm o glerigion yn yr esgobaeth, roeddem wedi dod yn gyfarwydd â bod gyda’n gilydd, i addoli yn ogystal â dysgu gyda’n gilydd ac oddi wrth ein gilydd cyn y pandemig. Er ein bod wedi cyfarfod dros y we yn ystod y 18 mis diwethaf, roedd yn dda bod yng nghwmni ein gilydd unwaith eto.

Gawsom gyfle dorri bara a Gair, ac ystyried sut y gallwn ailffocysu, cyhoeddi gobaith a pheidio ofni newid wrth i ni arwain ein cymunedau eglwysig allan o’r cyfnod hwn o bandemig.

“TS Eliot in ‘Burnt Norton’, from the Four Quartets says:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.

I am conscious as we meet together that these words are worthy of some reflection but also come afresh as an invitation. The Governing Body of the CiW has already made progress in trying to understand what it is we should carry with us into the next stage of our journey and what we should leave behind. The blessings of online worship and the creativity we have discovered have shown us we are light on our feet and able to adapt to new challenges quickly. But the pandemic also made us realize we were anxious as a church, at times frenetic rather than purposeful and that one of the things we need to shed is fear and hopelessness. Things like this cash out in bold but hard choices we make which can be costly. But they are necessary. As a diocese we’ve done some similar thinking too: we’ve tried to understand what life must now be like as we emerge from the pandemic. We know the temptation is to revert and return to what is familiar. We will be conscious of the pressure from within ourselves, our congregations and the system which demands BMF payments and a host of other requests. It can feel that the treadmill is already wound up and spinning fast.

So let us now pause: must it be like this, really like this? Is there a choice, are there alternatives? In the language of TS Eliot, is this one of those times we need to open a door and travel a different route – with new courage and hope?

And we could call on endless Scriptures to aid us here. I think of Elijah called, not once but twice, to abandon himself to the normal standards and routines of life and become subject to the most unexpected of servants: ravens and a widow. Neither would normally be regarded as either safe or secure vessels to help but this is what the Lord commanded and it’s what Elijah did. (1 Kings 17). And he found God was there and his faith was justified. Or I think of the Lord Jesus Christ himself who chose Peter. He named him the Rock but that Rock would shatter, fall apart under pressure and remain ruined until the Risen Lord’s restoring love made sense of the title given to him.

The point I think is that our history is one in which this pattern of discovering God, when we are in particular need, is not new but must always be appropriated anew. This is deceptively easy to say and trundle out. But what does it mean to acknowledge that we need to be liberated into the important and vital tasks? How do we discover the place where heaven seems to open and angels ascend and descend from heaven to earth? That’s the cue for my principal text which is Genesis 28:10f and the arrival of Jacob at the place he named Bethel.

I’ve been reflecting again on our life and in particular on two core activities in the New Testament:

  • Evangelism
  • Worship

And I want to begin with the first of those words. God said to Jacob ‘I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you’ (v 15). These are preceded with words which promise descendants, as numerous as the dust and land which will be for their keeping. What is staggering about the promise is that it comes to the biggest crook in town. A liar and a cheat, guilty of identity theft and intellectual property robbery too of the first order. There might even be a case of money laundering too.

But God chooses Jacob to bless all peoples on earth. We could dwell on why this scandalous choice is made and find resonance in the NT with Paul’s take on the wisdom of God who, in Christ, chooses the foolish and things that are not to shame the things which are. But I want us to pause at the point of promise. God commits himself in promise to this rogue. He sets no conditions or negotiates equal terms. But Jacob is no spectator. The grace of God draws from him new understanding with which he can identify: ‘Surely the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it’ he says.

In his book ‘Beyond Duty: A Passion for Christ, a Heart for Mission’ Tim Dearborn (p. 2) says: ‘God’s church falters from exhaustion because Christians erroneously think that God has given them a mission to perform in the world. Rather, the God of mission has given his church to the world. It is not the church of God that has a mission in the world, but the God of mission who has a church in the world’.

I wonder in our Ministry Areas if we know where the Lord is? Are we like Jacob, not aware of it and doing many good things but somehow, missing the moment of visitation and of discovering God at work? If evangelism really is catching up with God and partnering in God’s work – can we discover gates of heaven anew in the places we live and in which we minister?

If the image of that door from TS Eliot means anything then it must mean walking a path where God is at work and implicitly walking away from things which are unfruitful. If we need to redesign priorities, stop certain activities in order to do what is blessed and good then do this, we must.

The 2nd word is perhaps the most important of all because it is the act of giving what is due to God and bringing joy and blessing so that others live out the week ahead. I know much has been written already about the tension between online and in-person worship so will not add to that. But as I talk to colleagues, I know there are tensions which are new but also ongoing: we have many services to conduct, most of the churches are content with the familiar and practical considerations (ministry in the week such as funerals) can mean we have less time to prepare. Very often Sunday worship exhausts us even if it provides well for our congregations.

We do, in truth, need to attend to what our worship consists of this year. I do not believe it is either sustainable or healthy for us to offer the previous package of virtually identical services across the Ministry Area and imagine that much will change. I want to offer both my permission and urge action on colleagues (or your own sake as well as for the church) to focus on what is really life giving and what is sustainable. How can worship flourish where you are?

However my concern is not just for the service rota. My concern is for you. When Jacob woke from his dream, he marked the place of encounter with oil and named it Bethel, the house of God. He understood this moment was significant and for him, necessary. He would go on to say that if God would be with him, then God would be his Lord. He set off on the next part of the journey and, we’re told, to the land of the ‘eastern peoples’. The journey forward happened because the encounter fitted him for the next step. And I wonder in the light of the strangeness and demand of Covid, whether you have the encounters you need to fit you for the journey? Are there moments when heaven opens and the angels ascend and descend? I’m not speaking of Sunday services because you will be giving for the sake of others. I mean for you – your heart and your soul nourished and blessed by goodness from above?

The need for leaders, priests, to have good time with God is essential. And though we will not be the rogues that he was, well, most of us anyway, what ought to inspire us is that God did not give up. Elsewhere in the story there is that wrestling. God would not let go. And if God promises the long walk with us then that door is the portal toward good things.”

Christmas Messages 2020

Closed Captions (subtitles) are available by using the button ‘CC’

Here are my Christmas messages for this year.

Naturally, both messages reflect on the pandemic, our response and the way it has affected us all.

In the video Christmas message (which is available in Welsh as well), I talk to Rev Andrew Sully, who has been a hospital chaplain at Ysbyty Gwynedd over the recent months.

Closed Captions (subtitles) are available by using the button ‘CC’ or via the settings ‘cog’ on Facebook.

Please do share and use these messages and a blessèd Christmas to you all!

☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩

Christmas Message 2020

A year ago few of us would have imagined we would mark Christmas with the shadow of a virus hanging over much of our world. Fewer of us still would know what Zoom was beyond something to do with speed or haste. So much has changed in the last twelve months that predicting what the outcome might be is as uncertain as the arrival of the pandemic which has taken so many lives and left communities feeling isolated and troubled. The cost to the economy has been enormous and the well-being of the country has possibly suffered even more.

This would sound bleak beyond redemption were it not for the imminent arrival of a vaccine which promises a brighter future. What the new normal will involve remains unclear but this is a period about which books will be written long into the future.

I have been conscious of those who have sought ways to bring hope and kindness to those most at risk such as the elderly, those in hospital or carers. We will all remember the Thursday Clap which allowed us to thank NHS workers for their extraordinary work facing what seemed like a crisis to end all crises. There were others too who ensured medication was safely delivered, that contact was maintained with the more frail and marginalized in society. The capacity of human compassion to overflow into creative action has reminded us that we might seem powerless but this is not the case. What has seemed dark and foreboding has invited a level of practical care and support we haven’t seen for several generations.

The first part of the Christmas story may resonate with many of us as a consequence. Put aside the mental pictures of a gentle nativity scene at the crib. This is a story of God in the thick of life with all its challenges and complexities: it’s a story of how God enters into the chaos, born to a disorientated couple struggling to make sense of what this unexpected child could mean. In time, they and others came to realise that by stepping into this world, God was holding out an invitation to all humanity to connect with his transforming light and life. 

The second part of the Christmas story is more about our own response. If we are tempted to fear and despair we can respond to God’s open invitation to bring us hope. If we are tempted to feel powerless, God’s offer is to transform every heart and mind. This is the power of Christmas, which is the power of God to bring the world a light which never fades and life which is everlasting.

Bishop Andrew John, Bishop of Bangor

Negeseuon Nadolig 2020

Mae ‘Closed Captions’ (isdeitlau) ar gael wrth ddefnyddio’r botwm ‘CC’

Rwyf i’n falch i ryddhau fy negeseuon Nadolig – fideo ac ysgrifenedig.

Yn naturiol, mae’r ddwy neges yn adfyrio ar y pandemig, ein hymateb a’r ffordd y mae wedi effeithio bob un ohonom.

Yn y neges Nadolig fideo (sydd ar gael yn Saesneg hefyd), rwy’n siarad â’r Parch Andrew Sully, sydd wedi bod yn gaplan yn Ysbyty Gwynedd (Bangor) dros y misoedd diwethaf.

Mae ‘Closed Captions’ (isdeitlau) ar gael wrth ddefnyddio’r botwm ‘CC’ neu olwyn ddannedd ‘Settings’ ar Facebook.

Mae ‘na groeso i chi rannu a defnyddio’r negeseuon hyn a Nadolig llawen a dedwydd i chi i gyd.

☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩

Neges Nadolig Ysgrifenedig 2020

Flwyddyn yn ôl, ychydig ohonom fyddai wedi dychmygu y byddwn yn dathlu’r Nadolig gyda chysgod feirws dros lawer iawn o’r byd. Llai fyth oedd yn gwybod beth yw Zoom, heblaw rywbeth ynghylch cyflymder a brys. Mae cymaint wedi newid yn ystod y deuddeg mis diwethaf nes bod darogan beth allai fod o’n blaenau fod mor ansicr a chyrhaeddiad y pandemig, sydd wedi cymryd cymaint o fywydau ac wedi gadael cymunedau’n teimlo’n ynysig ac yn drwblus. Mae’r gost i’r economi wedi bod yn enfawr a lles y wlad wedi dioddef, o bosibl, hyd yn oed yn fwy.

Byddai hynny’n swnio’n llwm, y tu hwnt i waredigaeth oni bai bod brechiad ar fin cyrraedd ac yn addo dyfodol gwell. Nid yw’n eglur beth fydd o’n blaenau yn y normal newydd ond mae hwn yn gyfnod y bydd llyfrau’n cael eu hysgrifennu amdano.

Rwyf wedi bod yn ymwybodol o’r rhai sydd wedi bod yn chwilio am ffyrdd i ddod â gobaith a charedigrwydd i’r rhai sydd yn y perygl mwyaf megis yr henoed, y rhai yn yr ysbyty neu ofalwyr. Bydd pob un ohonom yn cofio’r Clap Dydd Iau pan oedden ni’n diolch i weithwyr y Gwasanaeth Iechyd am eu gwaith anhygoel yn wynebu’r hyn a oedd yn ymddangos fel argyfwng yr argyfyngau. Roedd eraill yn sicrhau fod meddyginiaeth yn cael ei dosbarthu’n ddiogel ac yn gofalu nad oedd rhai bregus ac ar ymylon cymdeithas yn mynd yn angof. Mae gallu tosturi dynol i orlifo yn weithredu creadigol wedi’n hatgoffa, er y gallwn ni ymddangos yn analluog, dydyn ni ddim. Mae’r hyn oedd yn ymddangos yn dywyll ac yn ddychrynllyd wedi arwain at  y fath o ofal a chefnogaeth ymarferol nas gwelwyd ers cenedlaethau lawer. 

Efallai bydd rhan gyntaf y stori Nadolig yn canu cloch gyda llawer ohonom o ganlyniad. Anghofiwch y lluniau rhamantus o’r Geni wrth y preseb. Mae hon yn stori sy’n dangos Duw yng nghanol bywyd gyda’i holl heriau a’i gymhlethdodau: stori o sut mae Duw yn dod i mewn i anrhefn, yn cael ei eni i gwpl dryslyd oedd yn cael trafferth i wneud synnwyr o beth yn union oedd y plentyn annisgwyl hwn yn ei olygu. Ymhen ychydig,  daeth y ddau, ac eraill, i sylweddoli fod Duw, drwy gamu i’r byd hwn, yn gwahodd yr holl ddynoliaeth i gysylltu â’i oleuni a’i fywyd trawsnewidiol. 

Mae ail ran o stori’r Nadolig yn fwy ynghylch ein hymateb ni ein hunain. Os byddwn ni’n cael ein temtio i ofni ac anobeithio, gallwn ymateb i wahoddiad agored Duw i ddod â gobaith i ni. Os byddwn ni’n cael ein temtio i deimlo’n ddiffrwyth, cynnig Duw yw trawsnewid pob calon a meddwl. Dyma yw nerth y Nadolig, sef grym Duw i ddod â goleuni i’r byd, goleuni nad yw byth yn pylu a bywyd sy’n dragwyddol.

Esgob Andrew John, Esgob Bangor

Pennies from Heaven?


The return of lockdown restrictions across much of the country occasioned by increasing infections recorded have once again focused our attention of the reality of uncertainty. This uncertainty is not wholly unexpected as politicians and medical scientists warned that a second wave of the pandemic would occur in the winter months. 

The timing of the second wave is earlier than expected raising questions whether social policy has contributed directly to both the timing and extent of the virus spread. What makes the second wave so damaging is that any recovery from the period of ‘unlockdown’ is now under threat. Businesses claim that this second period of restriction undermines those early recoveries, creates instability and damages what is only a fragile confidence. The ‘new normal’ appears to be one of settled uncertainty and makes even simple planning difficult and problematic.

The effects of the pandemic on employment and prosperity are obvious and real and even though developed studies on the scale and seriousness of mental health damage remain outstanding, few doubt that the consequences will be profound and long lasting. What has marked out this particular pandemic challenge is that we are not accustomed to the sort of deprivations seen not since the second world war. In western Europe, we have become immune to living with a fragility which our sisters and brothers in other parts of the world take for granted. 

For the church, the challenges are little different from other parts of society – the loss of economy, supporters, morale and perhaps crucially, activity and gathering. When a great deal of our identity has subsisted in the things we do, the challenge of identity becomes acute. Early indications suggest that some ministers and some churches, deprived of key tasks, have struggled to re-identify or sustain a vision of ministry that is empowering.

The question I wish to address in this paper in whether there are examples in Scripture which might model existence and purpose that can sustain us in a time of deprivation. I will briefly consider some key events and examine whether the understandable desire for prediction and knowing is ultimately a cul de sac and that lessons which centre on waiting and listening will enable a better doing in due course.

Holy Scripture is replete with examples of piety couched in threat-plea-salvation language (often juxtaposed in order) and concept. The Psalmist (Psalm 64:1f) for example called upon God to hear and then act in the face of enemies; prophets such as Elijah became the agents of delivery often secured in the face of enormous obstacles (1 Kings 17:7f). Even the kings, often the cause of trouble not their resolution, occasionally recognized their dependence on God in the face of challenge (2 Chron. 20:12). The context of viral threat, the deprivation of liberties we have taken for granted and the loss of opportunity and employment provide parallels to these stories of threat and challenge.

The threats of plague and pestilence are well known in Scripture. In the exodus story wasting sickness came directly from God. This is not the first instance pestilence came as a judgment – Pharaoh felt the consequences of Abram’s deceit because of Sarai. This ‘misplaced’ judgement focuses less on the object of the judgement than the offense of transgressing divine command and law. What appears to be indiscriminate, unreasonable even, misses the point that the story is about intimate connection between God and law, woven into the fabric of creation. A breach of the law is an offense against God regardless where fault lies.

But there are other stories in Scripture which need to sit centre stage at this time and invite the church to re-learn patterns and rhythms which have guided the church in times past and might do so again. The reality of pestilence in the psalms is the threat inviting petition and deliverance. But the fowler’s snare and deadly pestilence are no match for Yahweh’s salvation if the faithful make the Most High a dwelling (Psalm 91).

The narratives which provide the most obvious base from which to work are the seminal events in the Old Testament. The exodus-desert experience and the exile-prisoner stories witness to the same experience of challenge and threat. Both also describe a new engagement with God and a re-orientation of accepted patterns and understanding. In both stories, whether historically contemporaneous with the ‘events’ or not, there are explicit promises indicating a specific outcome but also more general commands which suggest responding to the challenge with faithfulness and no more is entirely legitimate. Even when this pattern is not uniform it is broadly consistent suggesting the ‘answers’ are less about solutions so much as faithful response.

The exodus story bears the marks of an epic drama from the first encounter of Moses with God and reluctance to do much more than tend the flocks to the moment of recognition he would not see the longed-for promised land. Spanning much of the early books of the Old Testament describes how the Hebrews are formed into a nation. The threat of Pharaoh gives way to a new threat which is learning to be faithful in the desert space. This period of aridity is the time of law giving. The contrast between the clear landscape of legal boundary and a more fraught life of deprivation is suggestive. 

The inhospitable desert becomes the context therefore for the formation the law demands. There is challenge inherent to both: the physical environment is brutal and harsh, the demands of the law no less taxing. One provides a context, the other a means by which to navigate within it.

The exile also involves a journey and dislocation. This time from Jerusalem to Babylon. For some this was a period of imprisonment, for others there was significant economic opportunity. Nonetheless the God-fearers found in the dislocation the bitter experience of being separate from the promised land. ‘How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land’ (Psalm 137:4) was their lament- away from Zion, apart from God their conviction.

The shift in which God was encountered away from the promised land was seminal. This new experience of God opened the way for faith to express itself, liberated from location even when the land remained a promise and a return a firm expectation. This discovery (witness the visions of Ezekiel by the Kebar river) was less a theological paradigm shift – Yahweh had long been worshipped as the God of the heavens and the earth but it lifted the spatial locus of God away from one particular piece of land and suggested there was not one single lens through which the Lord was revealed and made known.

In the New Testament we might cite the experience of Paul relayed to us in 2 Corinthians 12:1f or the apostle languishing in a Roman jail but full of resurrection hope and confidence (Phil. 3:10). Both of these show that the context does not constrict a faith which cannot see the end point but invites faith and trust. Faith is shaped by the context but is not eroded by it.

How do these observations impact us today? It is easy to try to discover a moral or theological purpose in the events around us: what does this mean or what is God teaching? Although understandable, they are probably the wrong questions to ask. Behind faith’s expression, the idea that God is directing events as might some divine chess player, is erroneous. The experience of the exodus and of exile suggests that there is a great deal to be learned and that the art of watchful reflection renders answers that are less about solutions so much as directions, how to remain faithful when life is squeezed and challenging.

The church shares in the deprivations experienced across society at present. Worship is restricted indoors, social gatherings problematic and for ministers, much of the face to face contact whether in crisis situations or more generally, extremely difficult to sustain. A great deal of ministry has been restricted or diminished so that disorientation and uncertainty are real challenges. And yet within that, there has been the reorientation of worship and mission on-line and as we approach Christmas a creativity around the use of carols and winter-tide celebration suggesting adaptation is more natural and instinctive than we might have supposed.

In the New Testament the witness of St Paul was that he did not know the ‘distant scene’ but knew he must be faithful to the very end. This resolve was not simply clinging to a creed which had no expression shaped by immediate events. It was rather about re-learning and discovering new things in the infinite mercies of God. The opportunities to share Christ with the whole prison guard were not just happy coincidences, but because Paul discovered a purpose within the situation if less clear what the end might involve. Is there an extent to which God calls us to continuous uncomfortability because from within this pressure, life appears? St Paul held the reality of the cross and resurrection together in his letter to the Corinthian Christians precisely because when death is at work, there is resurrection life too (2 Cor. 4:12).

Learning to understand what is occurring around and within us invites a patient waiting which is at odds with high speed life and progress. It allows context to open new avenues for reflection about where purpose is discovered rather than reasons for something occurring. Ultimately it calls us all, disciples and ministers alike to be tethered to the good ways of God, not to lose heart and to live with what the Church needs to learn even if this feels like pennies from heaven and only a few of them.

+Andrew Bangor

Diliau’r nef?


Gyda chyfyngiadau’r cyfnod clo yn disgyn ar lawer o’r wlad unwaith eto a mwy o bobl yn cael eu heintio, mae ein sylw, eto fyth, yn cael ei hoelio ar realiti ansicrwydd. Nid yw’r ansicrwydd hwn yn gyfan gwbl annisgwyl; roedd gwleidyddion a gwyddonwyr meddygol wedi rhybuddio y byddai ail don y pandemig yn cyrraedd erbyn misoedd y gaeaf. 

Ond daeth yr ail don yn gynharach na’r disgwyl, sy’n codi’r cwestiynau a yw polisi cymdeithasol wedi cyfrannu’n uniongyrchol at amseriad a lledaeniad y firws. Yr hyn sy’n gwneud yr ail don mor niweidiol yw ei bod yn bygwth unrhyw adfer ar ôl y cyfnod clo cyntaf. Mae busnesau’n honni fod yr ail gyfnod clo hwn yn tanseilio’r adfer ar ôl y cyfnod clo cyntaf, yn creu ansefydlogrwydd ac yn niweidio hyder, sydd eisoes yn hynod fregus. Mae’n ymddangos mai ansicrwydd sefydlog fydd y ‘normal newydd’ ac y bydd yn anodd, ac yn broblem paratoi, hyd yn oed y cynlluniau mwyaf syml.

Mae effeithiau’r pandemig ar swyddi a ffyniant yn amlwg ac yn real, ac er bod astudiaethau ar raddfa a difrifoldeb y difrod ar iechyd meddwl yn dal ar y gweill, dim ond ychydig iawn sy’n amau y bydd canlyniadau’r cyfnodau clo yn ddwys ac yn hir dymor. Yr hyn sydd wedi gwneud her y pandemig hwn mor neilltuol yw nad ydym ni, ers yr ail ryfel byd, wedi arfer â’r math o amddifadedd y mae’n ei greu. Dydyn ni, yng ngorllewin Ewrop, ddim wedi arfer dygymod â gorfod byw gyda’r math o fywyd bregus mae ein brodyr a’n chwiorydd mewn rhannau eraill o’r byd yn ei gymryd yn ganiataol.  

Dyw’r heriau mae’r eglwys yn wynebu fawr gwahanol i rai mewn rhannau eraill o gymdeithas – colli economi, cefnogwyr, morâl ac efallai, yn waeth na dim, colli gweithgareddau a dod at ein gilydd. Pan mae llawer iawn o’r ffordd rydyn ni’n gweld ein gilydd wedi gwreiddio yn y pethau rydym ni’n eu gwneud, gallai colli hynny sigo ein hunaniaeth. Yn ôl rhai arwyddion cynnar, gallai rhai gweinidogion a rhai eglwysi, wedi’u hamddifadu o’r tasgau allweddol, ei chael yn anodd i ail uniaethu neu gynnal gweledigaeth o weinidogaeth sy’n nerthu.

Y cwestiwn rwyf eisiau ei drafod yn y papur hwn yw a oes yna enghreifftiau yn yr Ysgrythur a allai fod yn fodel  o fodolaeth a diben i’n cynnal ar adeg fel hyn o amddifadedd. Byddaf yn ystyried yn fyr rai digwyddiadau allweddol a thrafod a yw’r awydd dealladwy i allu rhagweld  a gwybod, yn y pendraw, yn cul de sac ac a fyddai gwersi sy’n canolbwyntio ar ddisgwyl a gwrando yn fwy buddiol yn y pendraw.

Mae’r Ysgrythur Sanctaidd yn llawn o enghreifftiau o dduwioldeb yn cael ei gyflwyno mewn iaith bygwth-erfyn-iachawdwriaeth (weithiau mewn gwahanol drefn) ac o gysyniad.  Mae’r Salmydd (Salm 64:1f), er enghraifft, yn galw ar Dduw i glywed ac yna weithredu yn wyneb gelynion; daeth proffwydi megis Elias yn gyfrwng traddodi, yn aml yn wyneb anawsterau enbyd (1 Brenhinoedd 17:7f).  Roedd hyd yn oed frenhinoedd, oedd yn aml yn achosi yn hytrach na datrys helyntion, weithiau’n cydnabod eu dibyniaeth ar Dduw yn wyneb her (2 Cronicl  20:12).  Yng nghyd-destun bygythiad firws, mae colli’r rhyddid rydym ni’n ei gymryd yn ganiataol, a cholli cyfleoedd a swyddi, yn taro tant gyda’r hanesion hyn o fygythiadau a heriau.  

Mae bygythion o bla a heintiau yn gyffredin iawn yn yr Ysgrythurau.  Yn stori’r ecsodus, daeth y clefyd nychu yn uniongyrchol oddi wrth Dduw.   Nid dyma’r tro cyntaf i haint ddod fel barn – teimlodd Pharo ganlyniadau twyll Abram oherwydd Sarai.  Mae’r ddedfryd hon a ‘gamleolwyd’ yn canolbwyntio llai ar wrthrych y ddedfryd nac ar y drosedd o dorri gorchymyn a chyfraith ddwyfol.  Mae’r hyn sy’n ymddangos yn ddiwahân, hyd yn oed yn afresymol, yn colli’r pwynt;  mae’r stori ynghylch y cysylltiad clos rhwng Duw a chyfraith, sydd wedi’i wau i ddeunydd y cread.  Mae torri’r gyfraith yn drosedd yn erbyn Duw, waeth pwy sydd ar fai. 

Ond mae yna hanesion eraill yn yr Ysgrythurau, a ddylai fod yn yng nghanol y llwyfan ar hyn o bryd, sy’n gwahodd yr eglwys i ail ddysgu’r patrymau a’r rhythmau oedd wedi ei harwain yn y gorffennol ac a allai ei harwain eto.  Realiti’r pla yn y salmau yw’r bygythiad sy’n gwahodd erfyn a gwaredigaeth.  Ond nid yw bagl yr heliwr na phla difäol yn ddim o gymharu â iachawdwriaeth Iahwe os bydd y ffyddloniaid yn gwneud y Goruchaf yn amddiffynfa (Salm91). 

Yr hanesion sy’n gosod y seiliau mwyaf amlwg ar gyfer gweithio yw’r digwyddiadau mwyaf sylfaenol yn yr Hen Destament.  Mae profiadau’r yn yr anialwch yn Ecsodus  a’r hanesion o garchar ac o alltudiaeth yn dyst i’r un profiad o her a bygythiad.   Mae’r ddau hefyd yn disgrifio cysylltiad newydd â Duw ac o ail ffurfio patrymau a dealltwriaeth sefydlog.  Yn y ddau hanes, ai yn digwydd yr un pryd mewn hanes â’r ‘digwyddiadau’ ai peidio, mae yna addewidion penodol yn dangos canlyniad penodol a hefyd orchmynion mwy cyffredinol sy’n awgrymu fod ymateb i’r heriau gyda ffyddlondeb a dim mwy yn hollol dderbyniol.  Hyd yn oed pan nad yw’r patrwm hwn yn hollol gyson, mae’n ddigon cyson i awgrymu nad ‘atebion’ yn unig sydd yma ond ymateb ffyddlon. 

Mae nodweddion stori Ecsodus yn ddrama epig o’r tro cyntaf y mae Moses yn cyfarfod â Duw a’i anfodlonrwydd i wneud dim llawer mwy na bugeilio’r praidd hyd at y foment y mae’n sylweddoli na fydd yn gweld gwlad yr addewid yr hiraethodd gymaint amdani.  Yn rhedeg trwy lawer o lyfrau cynnar yr Hen Destament mae’r disgrifiad o sut y ffurfiwyd yr Hebreaid yn genedl.  Yn dilyn bygythiad Pharo, daw bygythiad newydd, sef dysgu bod yn ffyddlon yn ehangder yr anialwch.   Y cyfnod o grinder yw’r cyfnod o sefydlu’r gyfraith.  Mae’r cyferbyniad rhwng tirwedd clir y ffin gyfreithiol a bywyd mwy bregus o amddifadedd yn awgrymog.  

Daw’r anialwch digroeso yn gyd-destun felly ar gyfer y ffurfiant y mae’r gyfraith yn gofyn amdano.  Mae yna her ymhlyg yn y ddau: mae natur o’u cwmpas yn giaidd a chreulon, ac nid yw gofynion y gyfraith yn llai llym.  Mae un yn dangos y cyd-destun, y llall yn dangos y ffordd o fyw ynddo. 

Mae’r alltudiaeth hefyd yn cynnwys taith a dadleoli.  Y tro hwn, o Jerwsalem i Fabilon. I rai, roedd hwn yn gyfnod o garchar, i eraill roedd yn gyfle gwych i fanteisio’n economaidd.  Ond er hynny, roedd cael eu dadleoli o wlad yr addewid yn brofiad chwerw i’r rhai oedd yn ofni Duw.  ‘Sut y medrwn ni ganu cân yr Arglwydd mewn tir estron (Salmau 137.4) oedd eu cri – ymhell o Seion, ymhell o Dduw eu hargyhoeddiad. 

Roedd y symudiad yn y ffordd yr oedd Duw’n cael ei weld ymhell o wlad yr addewid yn sylfaenol.  Agorodd y profiad newydd o Dduw y ffordd i ffydd fynegi ei hun, wedi’i rhyddhau i’i dadleoli, hyd yn oed pan oedd y wlad yn dal yn addewid bod dychwelyd iddi’n ddisgwyliad cadarn.  Roedd y darganfyddiad hwn (fel yng ngweledigaethau Eseciel wrth afon Cebar) nid yn gymaint o newid y patrwm diwinyddol – roedd Iahwe wedi cael ei addoli’n Duw nefoedd a daear ers cryn amser – ag o godi Duw o le penodol, o ddarn penodol o dir, ac awgrymu nad un ffordd yn unig sydd yna o edrych ar, a darganfod, a dod i adnabod, yr Arglwydd.  

Yn y Testament Newydd, gallwn gyfeirio at brofiadau Paul sy’n cael eu hadrodd yn 2 Corinthiaid 12:1f neu o’r apostol, mewn carchar Rhufeinig ond yn llawn gobaith a hyder o’r atgyfodiad (Philipiaid  3:10).  Mae’r ddau yn dangos nad yw’r cyd-destun yn cyfyngu ar ffydd nad yw’n gallu gweld beth yw’r diwedd ond sy’n gwahodd ffydd ac ymddiriedaeth.  Mae ffydd yn cael ei ffurfio gan gyd-destun ond nid yw’n cael ei erydu ganddo.  

Sut y gallai’r sylwadau hyn effeithio arnom ni heddiw? Mae’n hawdd ceisio darganfod diben moesol neu ddiwinyddol yn y digwyddiadau o’n cwmpas: beth mae’n ei olygu neu beth yw gwers Duw? Er yn ddealladwy, mae’n debyg nad dyma’r cwestiynau y dylid eu gofyn.  Y tu ôl i fynegiant ffydd, mae’r syniad fod Duw yn cyfeirio digwyddiadau, fel rhyw chwaraewr gwyddbwyll dwyfol, yn gyfeiliornus.  Mae’r profiad o ecsodus ac o alltudiaeth yn awgrymu fod yna gryn dipyn i’w ddysgu a bod y grefft o ystyried yn fyfyrgar yn dod ag atebion sy’n awgrymu nid yn gymaint atebion ond cyfarwyddiadau, sut i aros yn ffyddlon pan fo bywyd yn  gwasgu ac yn heriol. 

Mae’r eglwys yn rhannu’r amddifadedd sydd i’w deimlo ar draws cymdeithas ar hyn o bryd.  Mae cyfyngiadau ar addoli o dan do, problemau ynghylch cyfarfodydd cymdeithasol ac, i weinidogion, bod llawer o’r cysylltiadau wyneb yn wyneb, mewn argyfwng neu’n fwy cyffredinol, yn hynod o anodd eu cynnal.  Mae llawer iawn o weinidogaeth wedi’i gyfyngu neu wedi crebachu gymaint nes bod dryswch ac ansicrwydd yn heriau gwirioneddol.  Ac eto, o fewn hynny, mae yna ail drefnu addoli a chenhadu ar lein, ac, wrth i’r Nadolig ddynesu, mae yna greadigedd o amgylch defnyddio carolau a dathliadau’r gaeaf sy’n awgrymu fod addasu’n fwy naturiol a greddfol nag a fydden ni’n dybio. 

Yn y Testament Newydd, tystiolaeth Sant Paul oedd nad oedd yn adnabod yr ‘olygfa bell’ ond ei fod yn gwybod bod yn rhaid iddo fod yn ffyddlon tan y diwedd un. Nid dal i lynu at gredo nad oedd digwyddiadau bob dydd yn rhoi mynegiant iddo oedd y penderfyniad hwn.   Yn hytrach, roedd yn golygu ail ddysgu ac ail ddarganfod pethau yn nhrugaredd di-derfyn Duw.  Nid cyd-ddigwyddiad hapus oedd y cyfle i rannu Crist gyda holl swyddogion y carchar, roedd Paul wedi darganfod diben yn y sefyllfa, er nad oedd yn amlwg beth fyddai’n digwydd yn pen draw.  A oes yna fesur ar y graddau y mae Duw’n galw arnom ni i anghyfforddusrwydd parhaus, oherwydd, o fewn pwysau o’r fath, y mae bywyd yn ymddangos.  Mae Sant Paul yn cadw realiti’r groes a’r atgyfodiad gyda’i gilydd yn ei lythyr at Gristnogion Corinth oherwydd, yr union adeg y mae marwolaeth wrth ei waith, mae bywyd yn atgyfodi hefyd (2 Corinthiaid 4:12). 

 Mae dysgu a deall beth sy’n digwydd o’n cwmpas ac oddi mewn i ni yn golygu disgwyl yn amyneddgar, sy’n wahanol iawn i ruthr bywyd a chynnydd.  Mae’n caniatáu’r cyd-destun sy’n agor llwybrau newydd i fyfyrio a dyna pryd mae diben yn cael ei ddarganfod, yn hytrach na’r rheswm pam fod rhywbeth yn digwydd.  Yn y pen draw, mae’n galw arnom ni i gyd, yn ddisgyblion ac yn weinidogion fel ei gilydd, i gael ein rhwymo wrth arferion da Duw, i beidio â digalonni ac i fyw gyda’r hyn y mae’n rhaid i’r Eglwys ei ddysgu, hyd yn oed os yw hyn yn edrych fel diliau’r nef, a diliau digon pitw hefyd.

+Andrew Bangor

Y Normal Newydd?

Normal Newydd? Gwasanaeth awyr agored yn Eglwys S Mihangel, Llanfihangel Din Sylwi (Bro Seiriol, Ynys Môn). Cynhaliwyd y gwasanaeth tu allan adeilad yr eglwys oherwydd bod mwy o bobl am fynychu nag y gallant ffitio y tu mewn i’r adeilad o dan gyfyngiadau Cofid-19 presennol.

This text is available in English here

Mae llawer yn ceisio dod i ddeall y goblygiadau i’r wlad yn sgil pandemig Covid-19. Mae rhai lleisiau’n dadlau dros ddychwelyd at y ffyrdd traddodiadol sy’n gyfarwydd inni’i gyd. Mae eraill yn gofyn inni ystyried mai dyma’r cyfle i ailwampio bywyd a chymdeithas yn gyfangwbl: mae’r hen ddulliau wedi torri a does dim trwsio arnyn nhw. Yr hyn sydd ei angen, medden nhw, ydy dim byd llai na mynegiant newydd o fywyd, gan gyflwyno blaenoriaethau a ffocws newydd i gymdeithas.

Mae llawer o’r drafodaeth wedi ei chynnal dan deitl ‘y normal newydd’ ac wedi llithro’n gyfleus i ryw rigol o dderbyn priodoldeb yr ymadrodd yn dawel, ddi-gwestiwn fel sylfaen i fynegiant cywir ac addas o’r sefyllfa. Ond ydy hyn yn wir? Yn y papur hwn, dwi am edrych ar yr ymadrodd hwn mewn perthynas â’r eglwys yn bennaf ond hefyd, holi p’un ai a all greu pwysleisiadau sy’n berthnasol i gymdeithas yn ehangach.


Mae’r gair ‘newydd’ yn un hyblyg tu hwnt. Mae’n gyffredinol iawn, heb gyfeiriad penodol. Yn y cyd-destun hwn, mae ‘newydd’ fel arfer yn golygu ‘gwahanol’. Wrth siarad, fe fyddwn ni’n sgwrsio am yr hyn ‘a fydd’ rhyw ddydd, rhyw bryd, rhyw fodd, fel tase hynny am fod yn ddigon gwahanol i’r hyn a ‘fu’, fel y gallwn ni gyfeirio ato fel ‘newydd’. Pan ystyrir ‘newydd’ fel datblygiad economaidd yn bennaf, fe fydd yn wynebu beirniadaeth gyfiawn ei fod yn hyrwyddo modd o ddeall cyfalafiaeth sy’n talu fawr o sylw i’r amgylchedd. Mae’r cynnydd a’r twf sy’n cael ei wthio a’i hyrwyddo’n ddiddiwedd yn gallu bod yn dreisgar ac arwain at ecsbloetio, gan gynnig ffordd i’r pwerus ddod yn fwy pwerus.  Yn wir, digon posib y gellid dadlau’n gyfiawn dros lai o’r ‘newydd’ ac ailosod rhywfaint o’r ‘hen’, os oes doethineb i’w gael yno. Tra bydd rhai’n gweld hyn fel enghraifft arall o sefydliad yn cymryd cipolwg cyson yn ôl ar ryw gyfnod euraidd honedig yn y gorffennol, mae hefyd yn gofyn inni ystyried pob cam a datblygiad yn ofalus yn wrthrychol cyn bod penderfyniadau’n cael eu gwneud. Er nad ydy cyfeirio at hanes ailagor y pydewau yn Genesis 26:18 o bosib yn sail ddigonol i’w ddyfynnu ar gyfer pob newid arfaethedig, ond mae’n awgrym o’r ffordd mae mynd i’r afael â diffygion trwy ryw fodd gwahanol i ddatblygu yn enw cynnydd yn unig. Mae’r stori hynafol hon, gyda’r islais o dyndra gwrthwynebus a styfnigrwydd disymud yn codi cwestiynau am y ffordd rydyn ni’n enwi ein dadleuon ac a oes, mewn gwirionedd, unrhyw ateb llwyr yn bosib i’r rhain cyn inni ddychwelyd at yr hyn a ddaeth â bywyd a bendith inni yn y lle cyntaf.      

Mae’r lleisiau sy’n dadlau fod Covid-19 yn caniatáu ailadeiladu economaidd sy’n benodol ‘wyrdd’ yn ymddangos fel tasen nhw’n colli tir i’r rhai sy’n dadlau fod y trafferthion a’r heriau economaidd mor fawr fel bod yr heriau amgylcheddol yn gorfod ildio blaenoriaeth i’r angen am adferiad economaidd. Mae grym y ddadl hon yn ddilys, pwerus a thaer yn y trafodaethau yn ymwneud â chytundebau masnach newydd yn dilyn ein hymadawiad â’r Undeb Ewropeaidd. Mae’n mynd i’r afael â mater presennol cyllid a chyflogaeth cenedlaethol a gwasanaethau angenrheidiol. I’r Eglwys, sy’n wynebu materion ynglŷn â phwy fydd yn dychwelyd i addoli’n gyhoeddus o ran niferoedd, breuder nifer o’n gwirfoddolwyr ac ariannu’r weinidogaeth bresennol, mae’r elfennau sy’n eu’n gyrru, er yn wahanol eu natur, yn ddim llai real.

Mae’r wireb ganlynol yn un y gellir dysgu oddi wrthi: gyda phob her daw cyfle. Yr hyn sydd gan yr Eglwys ddigonedd ohono, wrth gwrs, ydy eiddo a mannau agored, yn bennaf adeiladau eglwys a mynwentydd. O ran mannau agored, mae rhai ohonyn nhw’n cael gofal tyner eglwys neu grŵp cymunedol lleol, ond mai eraill yn aml yn cael eu hesgeuluso. Mae’r mudiad ail-wylltio tir (a dad-ddofi bywyd yr eglwys yn ddiweddar), hyd yn oed os na chawson nhw groeso llwyr, wedi bod yn fodd i atgoffa cymdeithas fod amrywiaeth, nid yn unig yn drefniant da gyda natur, ond yn gyfle i ymgysylltu gyda’r rhai hynny sydd heb fod yn cyfranogi ym mywyd eglwys na chymuned. Fe all y cyfle i arbrofi’n briodol gyda mynwentydd eglwys, gyda bwriadau ail-wylltio a’r amgylchedd mewn golwg, brofi i fod yn un o’r mentrau mwyaf cyffrous y gallen ni, fel eglwys, ei ddarparu. Mae enghreifftiau lu lle mae arbrofi wedi digwydd gyda hyn ac wedi cael croeso. Mae’n annhebygol o fod yn ddrud, fe fyddai’n gwahodd rhanddeiliaid i gyfranogi, yn fodel da o stiwardio ac yn dangos ffydd ar waith.  

Ar lefel fugeiliol yn unig, mae’n bosib bod y ffordd rydyn ni’n gofalu am ein mynwentydd yn dweud rhywbeth, nid yn unig am ein gofal dros y byw, dros berthnasau, ond hefyd yr hyn a gredwn am yr atgyfodiad.    

Os oes gan yr uchod unrhyw werth mewn perthynas â mynwentydd, gellid dweud yr un peth am adeiladau eglwysi. Y gwahoddiad bellach ydy symud o weld y llefydd hyn fel mannau cyfarfod i’r ffyddloniaid at wagle neu ofod i ailddychmygu traddodiad, ailfeddwl ac adfer hanes a doethineb. Hyn oll er lles a budd i’r gymuned gyfan ac nid cymuned y ffydd yn unig. Wrth inni ystyried fod y rhan fwyaf o’n heglwysi’n aros ynghau yn ystod yr wythnos, mae’r her i bob cymuned eglwys yn sylweddol.

Mae’r potensial sydd gan ein hadeiladau i fod yn fannau i adrodd ein stori o’r newydd, canolfannau gyda gwagleoedd mewnol (heb orfod tramgwyddo rheolau na rheoliadau) a all ddisgrifio a hwyluso ffydd newydd a gweinidogaeth newydd, yn gofyn am well dychymyg a dewrder nag a welwyd dros yr 50 mlynedd ddiwethaf, ond mae’n gwbl bosib os ydy’r arweinyddiaeth yn eofn ac yn fodlon mentro a cheisio ailddiffinio’r hyn a ddeellir ydy gweinidogaeth.  

Bydd llawer yn gweld datblygiad o’r fath yn gyfeiliornus a mynnu diwedd i’r holl ddiwygio hyn. Does wybod yn union pwy fydd yno i dalu’r deyrnged olaf ac wylo ar lan bedd yr ‘ymadawedig beth’. Ond un peth sy’n sicr, fe ddylen ni, fel disgyblion Cristnogol, sicrhau nad ydyn ni’n ffarwelio â’r union beth sy’n dod â bywyd ac egni i fyd sydd mewn taer angen newyddion da.

Os oes gwersi i’w dysgu gan yr eglwys ac y gwelir ailwampio bywyd ac egni, mae hyn yr un mor wir hefyd i gymdeithas ar y cyfan. Mae’n annhebygol o ymddangos mewn unrhyw faniffesto gwleidyddol nac arwain at ennill etholiad, ond fase chi’n cytuno fod ailgydio mewn ymdeimlad o gymdogaeth yn un o ganlyniadau cadarnhaol, er mor annisgwyl, y pandemig? Yr enghreifftiau o gymunedau’n cydweithio er lles eraill, yn enwedig y bregus a’r rhai dan anfantais? Nid ‘newydd’ ydy’r rhain – maen nhw cyn hyned ag amser dyn ar y ddaear ac yn rhai sydd angen eu hailfeithrin a’u hadnewyddu o genhedlaeth i genhedlaeth.


Ond mae yna ‘hen’ arall i’w ailddarganfod yma ac mae’n canoli ar y diddordeb sydd o’r newydd mewn pererindota. Mae arloeswyr diwinyddiaeth y pererin wedi ein hatgoffa fod y daith cyn bwysiced â’r cyrraedd a bod bywyd, yn ei hanfod, yn fwy byrhoedlog, newidiol a datblygol na’r drefn sefydlog sy’n deillio o arferion a phatrwm bywyd cyson. Mae’r awgrym na chawn ni fyth eto, efallai, fwynhau unrhyw beth a ystyrir yn ‘normal’ am fod yn fygythiad gwirioneddol i rai ond fe all fod yn wir fod newidiadau a symudiadau ysbeidiol a sydyn yn amddifadu cymdeithas, ac felly’r eglwys, o’r realaeth hon am byth. Ni ellir pwysleisio digon tystiolaeth yr eglwys yn y ddeinameg hon, gan y bydd yn canu cloch gyda chymdeithas sydd, heb unrhyw naratif crefyddol, yn deall eto fod bywyd yn wirioneddol ansicr a chyfnewidiol. Ond hanfod neges Cristnogaeth erioed ydy nad ydyn ni’n gorfod teithio wrth ein hunain. Mae’r gwahoddiad yma rŵan, fel y bu trwy amser, i gerdded gyda Duw trwy holl dymhorau bywyd. Mae hyn yn cynnig angorfa ar y daith neu’n fwy priodol, cyfeillach ac efallai rhywfaint o gyfeiriad.

Bydd gofyn i’r eglwys ailddarganfod ei thystiolaeth i’r ddeinameg hon hefyd. Os ydy adeiladau’n cael eu cynnig fel mannau i ddarganfod ac arbrofi, mae’n bosib hefyd y bydd angen i fywyd mewnol yr eglwys gael ei fynegi fwyfwy y tu allan i’r adeiladau hyn, mewn grwpiau llai, gyda phwyslais newydd ar y rhyngwyneb rhwng cymdeithas sydd, ar y cyfan, yn ddifater ynghylch yr eglwys o ran gwerthoedd ac ysbrydolrwydd. Oddi allan i strwythur ei meini sefydlog, efallai y gwnaiff yr eglwys ei hun ddysgu ailddarganfod anian cyneddfau’r pererin a holl ystyr ei bodolaeth, sef i fynd a rhannu’r newyddion da mewn gair a gweithred. Mae ein profiad o’r pandemig hwn wedi rhoi rhyw gipolwg inni o’r hyn sy’n bosib a bod gan yr eglwys y modd a’r gallu i chwim a hyblyg i ymateb i newid. Er nad ystyriaethau economaidd fydd yn gyrru’r camau hyn yn bennaf, mae’n rhaid cyfaddef fod costau gwresogi a goleuo adeiladau am gyfnodau gweddol fyr yn sylweddol.


Yn y papur hwn, dwi wedi ceisio archwilio rhai o’r ddeinameg sydd efallai’n bodoli ar hyn o bryd. Dwi wedi canolbwyntio ar yr ymadrodd ‘y normal newydd’ ac wedi ceisio dangos ei ddiffygion mewn modd o drïo deall ein sefyllfa bresennol. Dwi wedi awgrymu fod yr argyfwng a amlygwyd ac a ddigwyddodd fel canlyniad i Covid-19 yn gofyn inni ail-werthuso rhai o’r rhinweddau y mae rhai, efallai, yn eu hystyried yn ‘hen ffasiwn’ ond y gellid eu cymhwyso’n ehangach yng nghyd-destun bywyd eglwys. Mae’r ffocws ar eglwys fel lle y gellid archwilio’r pethau hyn orau yn arwydd o hyder yn y Duw sy’n gwneud popeth yn newydd ac eglwys sydd wastad ar ei gorau pan fo hi’n ddewr ac yn gwrando ar yr Un sy’n dweud, ‘Dilyn fi’.+Andrew Bangor

A New Normal?

New Normal? An outdoor service at St Michael’s, Llanfihangel Din Sylwi (Bro Seiriol, Anglesey). The service was held outside the church building because more people wanted to attend than can fit inside the building under the present Covid-19 restrictions.

Mae’r fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma

Many are seeking to understand the consequences for the country in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are voices arguing for a return to the tried and tested ways which have a familiarity about them. Others argue for a radical re-orientation of life for every part of society: the old cisterns are broken and cannot be repaired. What is now needed, it is argued, is nothing less than a fresh expression of life itself engaging society with new priorities and new focus.

Much of the discourse has taken place beneath the title the ‘new normal’ and has settled into a quiet acceptance of the appropriateness of the phrase as a proper and adequate articulation with which to work. Is it? In this paper I want to explore this phrase in relation to the church primarily but also inquire whether it could generate emphases which have wider relevance for society. 


The word ‘new’ is deeply malleable. It lacks specificity. In this context, ‘new’ usually means ‘different’. We speak about what ‘will be’ one day, sometime, somehow as though it will be sufficiently different from what ‘was’, to mark it as ‘new’. When ‘new’ is understood primarily as an economic development it will rightly face criticism that it perpetuates a way of understanding capitalism that has little regard for the environment. The never ending drive for progress and growth can be exploitative and violent, offering the powerful a way of becoming more powerful. In fact, there might be good arguments for less of the ‘new’ and a re-appropriation of some of the ‘old’ if there is a wisdom to be found here. While this will be regarded by some as another example of an institution constantly looking back to a so-called golden era, it does keep alive the possibility that every shift and progression ought not to be well regarded and fully accepted. The referencing of opening the wells in Genesis 26:18 might not be a sufficient ground upon which to found every proposal for change but it is suggestive in the way it addresses deficit with something different from development in the name of progress. This ancient story with its undertones of hostility and entrenched disagreement raises questions about the way we honestly name our disputes and whether anything like a complete resolution of these is possible before we return to what once brought life and blessing.

The voices arguing that Covid-19 allows an economic rebuild which is distinctly ‘green’ appear to be losing ground to those who argue the economic plight and challenges are so great that the environmental challenge needs to take second place to the need for any economic recovery. The force of this argument is real and powerful and present in the negotiations regarding new trade deals following our exit from the European Union. It addresses the immediate issue of national finance, employment and essential services. For the Church, facing issues about who will return to public worship in any numbers, the fragility of our volunteer base and financing ongoing ministry, the drivers are different but no less real.

The axiom might be instructive here: with every challenge there is opportunity. What the church has in abundance are of course property and space, specifically churches and churchyards. In the case of the latter, these spaces are sometimes cared for lovingly by a local church or community group but are also often neglected. The re-wilding movement (and recently rewilding of church life) even if not universally welcomed, has reminded a society that diversity is not only a good ordering of nature but an opportunity for engaging those who have not participated in either church or community life. The opportunity to experiment appropriately with churchyards, with specific wilding and environmental intent could prove to be one of the most exciting opportunities we could provide as a church. There are examples aplenty where this has been tried and been welcomed. It is unlikely to be expensive, it will invite stakeholder participation, it will model good stewarding and show faith in action.

At a purely pastoral level, the way we care for churchyards might say something not only about our care for the living, for relatives but also what we believe about the resurrection.

If the above has some new merit in relation to churchyards, the same could be true of church buildings. The invitation is to move from seeing the space as a gathering point of the faithful to an arena in which tradition is re-imagined, history and wisdom re-appropriated. And this for the whole community and not the community of faith only. When we consider that most of our churches remain closed during the week, the challenge to every church community is significant.

The potential outreach for buildings to be places of new story-telling, centres whose internal space (without deep violation of rules and regulations) can describe and facilitate new faith and new ministry calls for a better imagination and courage than has been shown in the last 50 years but this is perfectly achievable if the leadership is willing to be bold, courageous and to see re-describe how it understands its ministry.

Many will regard such a development as aberrant and urge an end to such revisionism. Exactly who will stand at the grave and weep the passing of something is not yet clear. We ought to ensure as Christian disciples it is not the very thing which brings lifeblood and energy to a world in need of good news.

If there are lessons for the church and a good reordering of life and energy, this might be true as well for much of society. It is unlikely to feature on any party manifesto nor clinch the win at the ballot box, but isn’t the re-discovery of neighbourliness one of the good outcomes of the pandemic? The example of communities working together for the sake of the vulnerable and disadvantaged? These are not ‘new’, they are ancient virtues which need to be constantly rediscovered and renewed in each generation.


But there is another ‘old’ to be rediscovered here and it centres on the renewed interest in pilgrimage. Pioneers of pilgrim theology have reminded us that the journey is as important as the arrival and that life is, by its nature, more transitory, changing and unfolding than the settled order which comes from habit and regular life pattern. The idea that we might never enjoy again anything which could be regarded as ‘normal’ will be deeply threatening to some but it might be true that discontinuous change and rapid shift deprives society and therefore the church of this reality forever. The witness of the church to this dynamic ought not to be understated because it will resonate with a society which, without any religious narrative, understands again that life is deeply uncertain and shifting. The Christian story however is that we do not journey alone. The invitation is to walk with God through ‘all the changing scenes of life’. This is to offer some anchorage on the journey or more appropriately some companionship and potentially some direction.

The witness of the church to this dynamic will need to be re-discovered by the church too. If buildings are offered as places of discovery and experimentation, the internal life of the church might need to be expressed more outside of these buildings in smaller groups, with new emphasis on the interface between a society largely indifferent to church if interested in values and the spiritual. Outside the structed stones, the church might learn to rediscover its pilgrim DNA and how it exists to share good news in word and deed. The experience of the pandemic has hinted at a church quite capable of being light-footed and quick to respond to change. The impetus for this will not be largely economic but the costs of heating and lighting buildings for relatively short periods of time is considerable.


In this paper I have sight to explore some of the dynamics which might be in play at this time. I have focused on the phrase ‘new normal’ and attempted to illustrate its shortcomings as a way of attempting to understand our current situation. I have suggested that the crisis highlighted and occasioned by Covid-19 invites a reappraisal of some virtues which could be regarded by some as ‘old fashioned’ but in the context of church life might be explored with wider application. The focus on church as a place in which these things might be best explored is a mark of confidence in the God who makes all things new and a church, always at its best when courageous and listening to the One who says, ‘Follow me’.

+Andrew Bangor

Addoliad : Garawys 5 – Lent 5


Gwn nad ydym yn gallu bod yn ein hadeiladau eglwys ar hyn o bryd, ond nid yw hynny’n golygu bod y gwaith addoli – moli Duw – hefyd yn dod i ben.

Gallwn addoli – moli Duw – unrhyw le, ar unrhyw adeg, felly lawrlwythwch a defnyddiwch yr addoliad y mae’r Esgobaeth yn ei ddarparu.

Cliciwch y ddolen hon i fynd i’r dudalen we lle byddwch chi’n dod o hyd i wasanaeth, y darlleniadau ac anerchiad a gweddïau gennyf ar ffurf fideo.

Mae’n Sul y Dioddefaint, mae’r Wythnos Sanctaidd yn agosáu. Gadewch inni foli Duw!

I know that we are not able to be in our church buildings at the moment, but that does not mean that the work of worship – praising God – also comes to an end.

We can worship – praise God – anywhere, at any time, so please do download and use the worship which the Diocese is providing.

Click this link to go to the webpage where you will find a service, the readings and an address and some prayers from me in video form.

It’s Passion Sunday, Holy Week draws nearer. Let us praise God!

Covid 19 ☩ 17-03-2020


Neges oddi wrth Esgob Andy heddiw

Mae’r cyhoeddiad neithiwr gan y Prif Weinidog wedi pwysleisio difrifoldeb y sefyllfa sy’n ein hwynebu. Mae hefyd wedi darparu gwybodaeth newydd ar gyfer yr Eglwys y mae angen ei ddadansoddi ac y bydd angen ei adlewyrchu yn ein harferion a’n hymddygiad. Mae’n amserol bod cyfarfodydd yn cael eu cynnal yn y dalaith heddiw i baratoi canllawiau newydd.

A gaf ofyn am eich gweddïau dros yr Esgobion ac eraill a fydd yn ymgynghori ar ran yr Eglwys yng Nghymru heddiw – am ddoethineb a dirnadaeth wrth wneud penderfyniadau.

A gaf ofyn hefyd am eich hamynedd wrth i ganllawiau newydd gael eu cadarnhau a’u cylchredeg. Bydd llawer i’w ennill o allu siarad â mesur o bendatrwydd yn y dyddiau nesaf, a sicrhau ein bod yn glir ac yn gyson yn ein dweud a’n harfer.

A gaf yn arbennig eich annog i ofalu amdanoch eich hun a’ch teuluoedd wrth i chi weinidogaethu i’ch cymunedau, a sicrhau bod eich timau gweinidogaeth yn cymryd yr un gofal. Rhaid inni fod yn barod dros yr wythnosau nesaf i fod ochr yn ochr â’r rhai yn ein cymunedau a fydd yn bryderus, mewn poen ac mewn angen. Ond bydd angen i ni hefyd ddilyn arweiniad eglwysig a llywodraethol, rheoli risg, a gweithredu gyda doethineb a dirnadaeth.

Yn olaf, mae gennyf gais am gymorth. Os ydych wedi paratoi gweddïau neu ddeunydd ysbrydol arall i’w gylchredeg ar yr adeg hon, a gaf ofyn ichi anfon copi at Siôn, gan fy mod yn gobeithio y byddwn yn gallu paratoi, casglu a rhannu deunydd ysbrydol yn y ddwy iaith dros y dyddiau nesaf.

Rwy’n rhagweld ysgrifennu eto yfory, ac ynghynt na hynny os yw’n bosibl, i roi’r wybodaeth ddiweddaraf ichi wrth i bethau ddatblygu.

A message from Bishop Andy today

Yesterday evening’s announcement from the Prime Minister has emphasised the seriousness of this situation we face. It has also provided the Church with new information that needs to be digested and will need to be reflected in our practice. It is timely that meetings are taking place in the province today to prepare new guidance.

May I ask for your prayers for the Bishops and others who will be conferring on behalf of the Church in Wales today – for wisdom and discernment in their decision-making.

May I also ask for your patience as new guidance is confirmed and circulated. There will be much to be gained from being able to speak with confidence in these coming days, and to ensure that we are clear and consistent in our pronouncements and our practice.

May I, in particular, urge you to take care of yourselves and your families as you minister to your communities, and to ensure that your ministry teams take the same care. We must be ready over these coming weeks to be alongside those in our communities who will be anxious, in pain and in need. But we will also need to follow church and governmental guidance, to manage risk, and to act with wisdom and judgement.

Finally, a request. If you have prepared prayers or other spiritual material for circulation at this time, may I ask you to send a copy to Siôn, as I hope that we will be able to prepare, gather and share translated spiritual material over coming days.

I anticipate writing again tomorrow, and sooner if possible, to keep you informed as the situation develops.

Recent Posts

Recent Comments





Get in touch

Quickly communicate covalent niche markets for maintainable sources. Collaboratively harness resource sucking experiences whereas cost effective meta-services.