The Vicar’s Thoughts
A few days ago, the Church of Sweden Abroad (SKUT) gathered for a digital conference where, among others, SKUT’s managers, Bishop Thomas Petersson - Visby Diocese, Vicars, Church Council Chairmen, representatives and members of the Church Board for the Church of Sweden Abroad participated.
Many of us have become accustomed to meeting online, especially in the last six months, but it was the first time that SKUT had a conference in this way. The conference lasted from Thursday to Sunday with many live sessions and pre-recorded lectures. It went beyond all expectations.
Imagine being able to have fellowship with so many even though we are at such great distances around the world, in many different time zones! From Melbourne, Mats Marklund and I, the chairman of the church council, participated.
We could chat and ask questions to the lecturers both before and during the live sessions, there were morning prayers, Sunday worship and several interesting lectures about the church's financial situation, church and parish views, ecumenism, changes in our operations and communication.
There was also a music concert, pilgrimage and mingling with colleagues and as icing on the cake a quiz, but the time difference unfortunately meant that the quiz and some sessions had to be skipped, as I could not sit up all night, even though I would have liked to join in for that too!
One of the features was a greeting from Archbishop Antje Jackelén that I want to share with you. She took note of a bible verse from 2 Timothy 1: 7, which many have found comfort in since the Corona Pandemic began: "for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but the spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind" Archbishop Antje wants to emphasize that there is comfort in those words, because God knows that discouragement is something we sometimes end up in, but that there is an identity for us in those words, because we know whose spirit’s children we are and who give each of us "power, love and sound mind".
Archbishop Antje said that this is something that many of us have shown now during this troubled time we are now in, both as individuals and as a church. We have become creative, but also shown that it is possible to show care and love even if the conditions are different depending on where we are. Our spiritual resilience continues to be challenged, but the Archbishop emphasized that challenges and opportunities "connect" and affect everything in our lives. I can really recognize myself in that and it gives me a feeling of hope and strength not only in my own life but also for the church and our congregation.
We continue to celebrate worship together online every week, we can continue to pray for each other and our congregation and we are obviously looking forward to meeting at the church even if it looks like it will take a while longer. We have to remind ourselves of the "spirit of power, love, and sound mind."
Katja Lin, Vicar