We live in extraordinary times, each day astonishing things are happening. It is easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed, to feel very small in the face of a very big, global Pandemic. How we feel as individuals, even though we are a small cog in a wider nation, and a wider world, is really important. Normally, we feel connected to the world through travel, sporting and cultural events, food, entertainment, education and our jobs. Jobs, socialising and recreation are at the heart of our largely Service Sector driven economy. As Christians, in the midst of all of this, we are used to connecting with each other in church – now we are having to connect through online church and Pastoral Care.
Change is happening
It is important to remember that Covid-19, although devastating many people’s lives today, will eventually be overcome. Although life will return to ‘normality,’ whatever that will look like, it will never quite be the same for those who have lived through it. Coronavirus is transforming society. It is undoubtedly the case that after the Pandemic subsides, life will go back to how it was beforehand and we will again feel connected. Yet, we will also have that uneasy feeling that all things that we valued as our connecting points are not as priceless as we thought.
As a nation we thought that self-expression and self-fulfilment were the essentials; whereas we are now finding that food, health and work are the true non-negotiables. What we view as essential has changed from that which we need to feed our passions – to that which we need to feed and maintain our bodies.
We are also getting a genuine insight into the fragility of our modern society with its focus on deliver everything that we need just in time, and we pay the big bucks to those who feed our insatiable desire to be entertained and amused. We no longer store our food, as our ancestors had to, we expect it to be freshly delivered to us when we want it. Instead of thinking about the security of our food and essentials supply, we are used to clicking and collecting, to ordering online and receiving it the next day. The panic, bulk buying, the selfish behaviour of many over this last weekend has been a loud wake up call to our government leading to yesterday’s clear and unambiguous call to remain at home unless for key workers, and for the rest of us only for food and essentials shopping.
In some ways history has repeated itself. At the start of last week, there had been a sense of people thinking they could continue to carry on as before. The same thing happened at the beginning of the Second World War, from September till early May, although the Navy was fighting a terrible battle against Nazi Germany on the oceans, life for the vast majority in this country in the army and among the general population hadn’t really been affected– this was known as ‘The Phony War.’ That all changed with the German invasion of Western Europe in May 1940. Likewise, everything seemed rather remote with other countries in lockdown and us largely going about our business until last week. Suddenly, we are now in lockdown and our NHS workers are telling us that things could get much worse than we could imagine unless we stay at home.
A new reality
Our society is going through a great shock. Every facet of our society is affected. Our government and Civil Service are having to implement harsh measures in an attempt to protect the very fabric of our society. The NHS and Social Care systems are fighting for the lives of the vulnerable and those at risk. The Education sector is in lockdown except for the children of key workers, the Economy is experiencing a crisis with business, jobs and livelihoods under threat. While we are in the early stages of the crisis, the impact is already being felt across the length and breadth of the nation.
Coronavirus is also revealing who the key workers really are, the people that we need in order to survive as a nation. The people who get paid the big bucks aren’t that necessary for a nation to survive the tsunami of the virus spreading across our land. It is our national and local Government, NHS staff, specialist scientists and academics, Emergency Service workers, Social Services, Care workers, Supermarket workers, farmers, lorry and van drivers, Civil Service and local Council staff who are vital.
How should we respond?
Having written all this – what should our response be as Christians? How can we remain connected with each other and most importantly with God? We should seek to live, speak and pray so that Christ is glorified and His truth and grace proclaimed in the midst of this Pandemic. It is vital to keep in touch with each other encouraging faith and courage because of whose we are – we are Christ’s. I want to initially suggest five simple things we should be doing, I will add to this over the coming weeks as we work our way through this global crisis:
- Heed the government’s directives and, unless you are a Key worker, stay at home
- When we engage with people, do so sensitively, with compassion and with the hope of Christ
- Pray for breakthroughs in the treatment, prevention and ultimate means of overcoming this terrible virus
- Pray also for Christ’s Church across the globe as its public services, small group ministries, and community engagement programmes are suspended – that it will be able to still effectively bring the message of the Gospel, serve its communities, and make disciples
- Finally, pray for the Spirit to grant us a prophetic voice to the nations so we can bring God’s word and His perspective on the needs of the hour to everyone including the last, least and lost.