Little and large
By Sammy Jordan Project Lead HOPE For Every Home
Sammy wonders what God is doing as she compares the ‘big picture’ of global challenges with the ‘little picture’ of local communities. In this time of turmoil, are we connecting more than ever before?
When I was a little girl, ‘Little and Large’ were a comedy duo from near where I lived in Manchester. On one occasion my mum even saw them in Tesco! However, when I currently think about ‘little and large’, it has nothing to do with comedy duos, quite the opposite. ‘Large’ being the ‘big picture’ of what’s happening in our world on a national and international level. ‘Little’ being the ‘small picture’ of our local and personal lives.
I wonder how you view the big picture right now? It’s always possible to point to difficulties, tragedy and hard times because, after all, that’s the nature of the broken world we live in. But currently all the usual hard stuff seems to be on steroids! It’s constant. Take, for example, my list of life in 2022. I wonder how it compares to yours?
Covid has caused bereavement, anxiety, isolation, job losses, financial worries, changes to work patterns, family separation… and we are still living with it, uncertain how or when it will end.
Then there’s Brexit, which impacted trade and our ability to get certain products.
Not forgetting the cost-of-living crisis with the looming sense that it will get worse before it gets better, and the very real risk that some people might have to choose between heating and eating this winter.
We have mammoth hospital waiting lists and a huge rise in the number of people with mental health concerns.
Amid all of this we seem to have a crisis in national and international leadership. Situations in Russia and the USA as well as here in the UK, might pose the question of whether we trust those elected to govern, to do so with our best interests in mind and with integrity of character.
This big picture seems to be getting bigger still, with people’s identity less certain than ever, be it for fear of accusation and ‘cancel culture’ or questions of gender and sexuality.
Nationally and internationally, we are living with volatility and uncertainty. Life feels more precarious.
It’s quite a list, I wonder what you would add to it? Many Christians I talk to are referring to the current season as a time of ‘shaking’, and I can see why. The issues we hear on the news are so dramatic and overwhelming it’s hard to see and hear beyond the noise.
But I have good news for you… this big, gloomy picture isn’t the only picture! At the moment, it’s the little picture that gives me hope. So, I invite you to look. To look at the little picture. I wonder if you notice and see what I see at a local, community and personal level.
During Covid I noticed that God took his Church out of the building and reconnected us with our local community. We stood on our doorsteps, walked locally, helped neighbours with shopping and connected on WhatsApp. Life hasn’t totally reverted to how it was, with more of us working from home, to give one example. On the estate where I live, I notice that secular organisations show more recognition of The Church and its role, becoming valued partners. People stepped into the gap during Covid, a gap too big for national and local governments to fill alone. I seem to hear frequent stories of local councils, the police, the NHS and other organisations (like the builder of the new estate where I live and the YMCA who run my local community centre) who are embracing opportunities to work in partnership with churches and community groups.
So, here’s my wonder…
I wonder if God is shifting our focus away from the large, national and institutional top-down structures, to the little and local? In a more mutual and relational way with the local community and its stakeholders? The Church and national structures might be at low tide, but, like the mudlarks who dug for ‘treasure’ on the muddy banks of the Thames in Victorian London, I wonder if there’s treasure to be found? A treasure that is more local, communal, and relational; with a renewed, flourishing Church. We are in a season of many challenges, but with challenge comes opportunity - we might just have to dig around in the mud to find it.
A focus on the little, local and relational context presents the people of God with an opportunity to grasp everyday mission ourselves; to do mission with instead of mission to or for people in a top-down way. Mission with is about coming alongside others, listening and allowing responses to emerge. Mission with is about mutuality, being prepared to be served and be blessed by our neighbours as well as seeking to serve and bless them. It means the people of God are released to share Jesus as we go about our day to day lives - at home, work, in the gym, with friends and neighbours, at school…wherever God has called us. Mission with can also be with other people and groups who share a common aim. It means embracing our part in the Great Commission instead of waiting for those with the training, fancy collars or job titles to do it to all for us!
If this sounds like your sort of mission, then you might be interested in joining our new Talking Mission With learning community. It’s for anyone who is enthusiastic about mission as part of their everyday. We meet quarterly for a lunchtime webinar and hope to develop a supportive, relational network that will have a physical localised expression too. Our second meeting is in October and I’d love to hear your ‘mission with’ stories! You can find more details here Hope for Every Home : Share or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Local prayer is part of this local mission focus, and local prayer initiatives seem to be bubbling up across the country. If you facilitate prayer for your local area with Christians from other churches, you might be interested in the Joining Dots Prayer Network (JDPN), which Hope For Every Home is part of. JDPN maps where prayer is happening in towns and cities across the UK, with the vision of seeing every street in every town and city prayed for by the end of 2025. If you are involved (or want to be involved) in praying for your area and would like to know more, email Sammy and download our leaflet for more information.
So, as we enter August and perhaps life quietens down, ask yourself the question ‘what is God doing in my local area?’ As you paddle on a beach at low tide, ask God ‘what is the treasure you want me to discover?’ And as you gear up for September, pray for your little picture, remembering God is in the little and the large.