We’re now into the 4th week of lockdown and, apart from daily media speculation, there’s no definitive idea of when we might be able to move around more freely. I nearly wrote, “…return to normal” but I don’t think we can go back to where we were, even if we wanted to.
The time we are spending apart from our tried and settled routines has meant that we have had to look things in a very different way. Those things we have put off for a rainy day can now be addressed.
In one sense, that rainy day (or, rather the time we need to do the work), has arrived. I think the length of the online queue for a certain well know home improvement website, where I was waiting at number 23175, proves that particular point.
Our homes have become not so much the centre as the boundaries of our lives. Many of us are spending much more time with our families than ever before; others are now living in enforced solitude. Either circumstance can bring its blessings, both can bring their downsides. Anxiety, stress, loneliness, worry, fear are everyday realities for some and growing possibilities for others.
I’ve been reading about how the disciples responded to Jesus following His resurrection. The events of those days have taken on a new resonance in light of our present circumstances – like us, they were in lockdown. Like many today, they were living in fear (John 21: 19): they simply did not know what would happen next or when the hammer blow of the persecution they expected to come, would fall. Sounds very familiar, doesn’t it?
On the very day of his resurrection, Jesus appears to them. His very first words are “Peace be with you;” it was (and is) the normal and everyday greeting shared amongst friends. But, at that moment, in that place, given those last few days, it was a powerful blessing. In effect, Jesus is saying “It’s ok, I’m here. I’m with you. Life won’t be the same again.” It may not have been what they expected to hear but it was what they needed to hear. In a moment fear goes and hope is restored..
The accounts of Easter, with their graphic depictions of the death and resurrection of Christ, speak clearly into our present situation. The hope that resurrection brings is a light to dark days: the presence of the risen Christ a reassurance to troubled hearts and unrealised dreams. Like the disciples, this is a time of waiting and learning: what was 50 days for them is likely to be longer for us but we’ll share something of the same opportunities.
I believe that we can - and should - consider now what the future might look like. It will be hard to shake off the patterns we have recently embraced. With wider opportunities for prayer, reflecting and understanding the power of the resurrection for today, I truly believe that we have a once in a lifetime chance to embed Christian values and the Christian faith into the life of our nation.
Let’s rest in God but let’s plan for the Kingdom!