The Sunday before we had to shut down the chapel started to kick in was reasonably normal at the Chapel. People had been advised to stay away if they had symptoms, so a few people were missing and additionally, some of our older members were already self-isolating. We were also requiring hand washing, had switched to individual cups for communion and hugging and handshaking was off the agenda but apart from that all seemed reasonably normal.
The working week wasn’t too different either. We had plans for the following weekend to visit my parents for Mothers’ Day and we fully expected the visit to go ahead. Sarah went into school each day and only a few children were off due to the virus.
So, when the lockdown hit, I think many of us expected to have to stay home for a few weeks, or even a few months but we fully expected that leaving lockdown would mean a return to normal. We would go back when ready and normal services would resume. If you think back to the Government messages at the time, you realise that this was what they seemed to expect too. We had gone straight into lockdown from normal life and we would return straight out if.
However, as lockdown continued, we began to realise that things would not be so straight forward. We saw what was happening in other countries, we began to hear murmurs and rumours. National church leaders were tweeting and writing to dampen expectations. We now do not expect to be fully back up and running this side of Christmas. For the foreseeable future, even returning to church will mean restricted capacity, sitting on your own to enable social distancing and no singing.
It is not just that we are under constraint from the regulations and guidance. The mood amongst many is apprehensive. People who willingly sent children to school up until lockdown are reluctant to send them back “until it is safe” and I suspect that quite a few people who were there on that last Sunday showing little signs of fear will not feel ready to come back yet. There is a nervousness among many.
We will discover that it was much easier to go into lockdown than it is to get out.
This is generally true in life. It is much easier to start something new than to stop something old. Before you choose to begin a ministry or project make sure it is something you definitely want to continue with.
It is much easier to get into something than to get into of something than to get out of it, beware the addictive nature of sin.
If you are responsible for pastoral care and there are people attempting to leave behind sin, habits and addictions, be ready for this to take time, be patient, help them to find alternative, healthy habits to replace the old ways.
It is harder to get out of something than to get into it but what seems impossible to man is possible with God.