(This series of articles were written at the beginning of the first lockdown in March/April 2020)
The last time I heard the term ‘lockdown’ I think it was in an episode of Jack Bauer’s ‘24’, when a government building had been infiltrated and metal shutters slid into place, cutting off the building from the outside world. As you read this you will either be experiencing a form of ‘lockdown’ or have it as an indelible recent memory. Our society had been well and truly infiltrated and our lockdown is to keep the Covid-19 menace away from our homes. Of course, it may keep us safe and protected, but it has also shut us off from the world and its familiarities. It insulates us from the necessities as well as the dangers and one of the by-products of this new reality has, for many of us, forced us to re-evaluate our lives and decide exactly what are our necessities?
As Christians we are obliged to see God’s Hand in this whole episode, if we are to believe that He is the supreme arbiter of our comings and goings. There has been an added factor for us, the forced exclusion from our buildings of worship, from cathedral down to small assembly rooms. This has not happened since the last major pandemic, the Spanish flu of 1918, and at least we now have electronic communication to counter the isolation (they didn’t even have radio sets in those days!) We need to ask whether ‘going to Church’ is one of these necessities, or whether another way can be found?
How has the Church responded? By now you will have been bombarded with books, blogs and bluster from within the Christian world and without, with practical advice, home-spun psychology, web exercise classes and tasty recipes to get us through the crisis. Many Christian leaders assured us – once they were stirred into action – that all was OK, everything will work out right and the Church will learn lots from the useful experience of zooming around in this dreadful virtual world, making us wiser and stronger once normality returned.
You are now able to assess how well the Church has mostly responded and, for many clerics, perhaps everything has returned to a kind of a normality. But consider this, what if the pandemic was somehow God’s Plan A … and that we were never meant to return to “normality”? What if the whole episode was, momentarily shifting our attention away from the tragic effect of the virus, His plan to move the Church into a new paradigm. Perhaps the true intention of the lockdown was Flockdown, a jolt to His Church, the flock, either to lay prostrate, out for the count, or to sit up and take notice?
This is the possibility offered by this humble author, driven by a key Scripture:
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. (Psalm 24:1)
We are mere partakers and observers in His Eternal plan. May we rest content in His love for His people and never judge His motives for His great works, however they are achieved. Let us open our eyes and hearts and perhaps gain a measure of understanding through the possibilities proposed in these articles.
This is an extract from the book, Flockdown: Is the Church out for the count?, available for £5 at https://www.sppublishing.com/flockdown-263-p.asp
How has the Church responded?