Reflections during Lockdown No 6;
Change is in the air
“It’s been a long time coming but I know a change is gonna come” (chorus from A Change is Gonna Come, one of the anthems of the civil rights movement from the 1960s onwards)
This will be the last of my reflections during lockdown. This is not because Covid-19 has gone away but because the lockdown is gradually ending. It is also a good time to end them. I have written one in each of the six weeks after Easter and now we are in the 10 days of waiting between Ascension Day and Pentecost. For the past few years the church has set aside these days as a time of prayer for the coming of God’s kingdom called “Thy Kingdom Come”. The key resource for this is praying the Lord’s prayer which is at the end of this reflection.
Walking in the early mornings I have been blessed to be alone in a world waking to the new day. The sounds, sights and scents in the parks and woods in Beckenham are timeless but there is change in the air. The trees that were bare just after Easter are now in leaf. Flowering shrubs are in bloom and the cygnets in Kelsey park are growing by the day. And surely the birds have been singing more loudly this year?
I began these reflections with lament: lament for all that had changed because of the virus, lament for the pain all around, lament for the difficulties, the losses the isolation and for being unable to lead a normal life. This week, with that sense of change and the words of Joel 2,38 in my mind, I reread the Book of Joel. The book, too, begins with lament followed by a call to repentance. Only then will God pour out his spirit.
“I will pour out my spirit on all flesh: your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams and your young men see visions” (Joel 2, 28)
God is longing once again to pour out the Holy Spirit into the world that all may receive the good things that the Spirit brings. But that only happens after lament and recognising how we have strayed from Gods ways. As we emerge from lockdown, what changes does God want from us, God’s people? If we have enjoyed clearer air and less noise, does that mean we need to think about about how much we travel? If we have been cared for by the community or if we have been a carer, do we now need to readjust our values from material things to good relationships? How will we care for those who have suffered most and lost loved ones or their livelihood? Do we need to challenge the values of the society we live in? And finally how will we hold onto the lessons we have learnt and not let them slip away as we become caught up in everyday life?
Before I end with the Lord’s prayer, here is a quotation that was said to be by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. However when I tried to find the source I discovered that it does not appear in his writings but is based on them. Despite this, the message remains valid for us as we come out of lockdown. Here it is.
“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours, no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world.
Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people