In the days after the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples met behind locked doors “for fear of the Jews” and Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Today, many of us are living almost “behind locked doors” but mostly definitely not “for fear of the Jews”, but “for fear of Covid 19.”
And that is bringing about a change in our ways of being and living, which feels almost as dramatic as the changes brought about to the early disciples by the resurrection of Jesus. For the early disciples, the changes in their lives were mainly long term. For us the changes may be temporary, but I suspect that for some, certain aspects will continue throughout the rest of their lives.
Just as Jesus came among those early disciples and said, “Peace be with you”, so Jesus is alongside us saying just the same. It is at times like this, that many of us want to think hard about our faith and about our priorities in life.
Our churches are closed and most of us are required to stay in our homes except for shopping, exercise and medical needs. This has had a number of implications, both positive and negative.
As individuals, we can’t do many of the things which normally keep us busy. This gives us the opportunity to reassess what is really important in our lives. It is hard not being able to get out to see family and friends or to see the newly born grandchild; it is particularly hard for those living alone but many of us are being much more purposeful in making sure that we do keep in touch with those in our social circle using the phone, or WhatsApp, or Facetime or Zoom or other modern ways of communicating. Perhaps this reminds us that, in normal times, we can let other less important things get in the way of ensuring that we stay in touch with those close to us.
As a congregation, we have quickly had to create a new way of being Church now that we can’t meet together to worship. We have had to learn to do “remote” church. This for us here means weekly adapted service sheets, a prayer chain and phone calls. We will also have to explore other ways for smaller groups to get together “virtually” using Zoom or similar technology as we will need to hold the inevitable formal meetings which are part of church life!
We are learning a lot during this time, about ways of keeping in touch with one another – using some new ways and some old – and I am sure that some of these will continue to be used. The restrictions on our movement is making us particularly conscious of those members of our congregations who are housebound. And hopefully we are questioning whether we do enough in normal times to keep in touch, to give them worship opportunities, to make sure that their needs are met.
This is also a time to concentrate on prayer – not only praying for those serving sacrificially in the NHS and care homes, for all other key workers, for those who are suffering from Covid 19 and for the bereaved, but also just spending time focussing on the fact that Jesus is alongside us saying “Peace be with you.”
The lives of the early disciples were radically changed as a result of the resurrection of Jesus. The disciples had a new focus – to go and make disciples of all nations. This pause in our normal way of being and living also gives us the opportunity to consider afresh how God wants us to be and to live both now and when all this is over.
Let’s not miss this opportunity!
Peace be with you.