It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Those words, with which Charles Dickens begins A Tale of Two Cities, sum up our experience of the last ten weeks at St Martin-in-the-Fields. It’s been the worst of times, because our business has been unable to operate, jeopardising dozens of jobs and slicing off the revenue that keeps the community going. Meanwhile those who have no place to lay their head have been vulnerable like never before. But we’ve also discovered the depth of countless friendships – many of which we never realised we had. An amazing range of people have donated generously to our Keeping Our Doors Open appeal. We’ve never felt our presence and mission more appreciated than we do today. Our doors have been closed for the first time; but our community’s responded with innovation, energy and compassion online and face to face – expressing something more infectious than the virus.
The Appeal comes to a climax on Pentecost Sunday with a virtual as-live concert at 7pm with a host of media celebrities and contributions from our Voices and Choral Scholars. If you’ve already given to our appeal – thank you, sincerely, from me and the whole community. If you’ve been part of our life and haven’t yet had the chance to give, may I invite you do so, right now. What I hope people will see in the concert is the way St Martin’s seeks to embody hope, dignity, creativity and relationship in everything it does. We’re constantly responding to new challenges – and the coronavirus is the biggest we’ve ever faced. But we’re made up of people who believe in the joy of music, the quest for truth, the value of every individual, and the power of the word, ‘together.’ We’re trying to keep this dream alive in our darkest hour.
Pentecost is about diversity, energy, surprise, joy, imagination, and turning the world upside-down. It’s about everything St Martin’s is about: God meeting every person in their own language and their own context, making their small life of immense significance by elevating it into the wonder of God’s story. The Appeal began as a way to help St Martin’s survive. It’s becoming a way to reimagine the St Martin’s that emerges from this crisis as a different organisation, even more aligned with its core convictions. One of those convictions is that generosity is the best investment. God invests 100% in us. We discover the joy of that when we invest 100% in God and one another. In the midst of this bleak season, Pentecost is a little glimpse of forever – when we enter the joy of God and feel every part of our life and character and history and personality put to use in the wondrous kaleidoscope of God’s kingdom.
Revd Dr Sam Wells