We’re now in week 4 since the schools closed and UK went into lockdown and I’m sure we have all been affected by this in many different ways. Whilst we may feel that we’ve been robbed of many aspects of our lives, for the majority, we have been given time. Prior to the lockdown, we were so busy rushing around, going to work, organising children, packed lunches, shopping, planning, hobbies, etc. There were days when you just wanted to cry out for everything to stop, just so you could get off of the wheel for a few moments. Well, here we are, our environment limited to whatever is within reach of our doorstep. I guess the way we are all feeling during these times of uncertainty is very different but, for each of us, we will find ourselves having whole raft of different emotions. We are all having to think outside of the box to come up with new and creative ways of how we do life. For some, this requires being even more organised. Not only are we having to organise ourselves but others within the family too when they would normally be at work or school. For others, there is sense of fear and anxiety, magnified through thoughts of being alone, confined or even exposed. Businesses are having to fight in their struggle to survive being faced with decisions that they never thought they would have to make.
“Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have! You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear. I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.” Psalm 23:4 (The Passion Translation) For me this has raised a number of questions and considerations. Who is my neighbour? Who are the most vulnerable around us, and what are we doing to help them? Where is church and what is church? What are my priorities? My thoughts are not confined to what I can’t do but more drawn to “what can I do?” Living in a courtyard, we have a pretty good relationship with our direct neighbours but there are many others within a close radius that need to know we are there for them too. I can do this through writing a note with the offer of help when needed and by finding out more about them. When I go to the shop or post office, I can check if they need anything too. I can write a letter or leave a gift on the doorstep.
More than ever, I realise that church is not confined to a building; it has no need of walls. In the conversations I have had, there is evidence of a desire for unity and hope. I can share about church and encourage others to access church through technology. Have you noticed, like me, the friends or relatives that have been attending church through the internet window with great interest; the requests for prayer from the most unlikely of people? There has never been a greater opportunity than now to bring hope to others through Jesus. I can be the church to others.
Times like this, prompt us to re-evaluate our priorities, to step out of our comfort zones. We discover new things that we can do, when normally, we would just stick to those things we are familiar with. Material possessions start to become more meaningless (although I don’t deny that one of the first places I will visit when I can will be the hairdressers!). We re-learn the value of what we have and, in particular, friendships.
I don’t know about you, but I for one, am going to make this a time that counts. I want to make the best of every opportunity to be that light shining in the darkness; to be that encouragement to others; to be the church of Jesus Christ. In a world where we are the church, what can you do? “I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matt 5:16 (The Message)