We are at the beginning of the ninth week of Coronavirus lockdown and the world has changed so greatly that our lives today are unrecognisable from what they were a mere three months ago. Right from the beginning of the crisis and the advent of lockdown, with its closure of churches and its restrictions on all life outside the home, I have been asking God for transformation – transformation of my own life, transformation of the church, and transformation of the world.
Many of us, I’m sure, are longing for things to return to ‘normal’. We have lost much during these two months – the presence and touch of members of the family, ordinary social experiences such as going to a cafe for a coffee with a friend, or going to the cinema, concert hall or theatre. Some people will have lost their job or will have been furloughed, losing at the same time a sense of purpose, and wondering whether they will ever recover it. Some will have had to work harder than ever, often under difficult and stressful conditions. Loneliness of all kinds will have increased for many, particularly for those who do not have access to digital forms of communication.
There have been gains too – a wider sense of community ‘solidarity’, and of appreciation for those who have kept us
going through the crisis. We have found new ways of doing things, particularly involving the internet. The environment has benefitted, with cleaner air and water contributing to the saving of thousands of lives in future.
The question for us now, as some lockdown restrictions start to ease, is what ‘normality’ should look like. What have we discovered in lockdown about ourselves as individuals, as a church and as a community, that is potentially transforming? How is the Holy Spirit working in us, in our church, in our community, to effect a profound change which glorifies God and builds his kingdom? This is a question for all of us – not just for me! The answers will come as we ‘pray without ceasing’ as Paul urges the Thessalonians. Let us begin now to listen to the Holy Spirit as this work of transformation goes on within and amongst us.