August’s “Letter from the Ministry Team” comes from Canon John Chambers
When I agreed to write this article I had hoped that I would be commenting that we were free from the restrictions around the coronavirus – but we aren’t quite there yet! Having said that there is now light at the end of the tunnel. Humans are made to be relational and for many people the isolation of the last seventeen months has been very hard. During the first lockdown you will remember that all churches were required to close their doors but since the end of the first lockdown a year ago the ministry team and the churchwardens have worked hard to keep our churches open as much as possible whilst maintaining a covid-secure environment. Over the last months we have enjoyed welcoming people back to Sunday services and it is wonderful to see more people feeling brave enough to join us.
As we slowly and gradually move to the ‘new normal’ I wonder what that will look like? I would like to think that it was one in which the spirit of the first lockdown continued; where volunteers came forward in droves to help those in our society who were isolated and vulnerable, for the people who greeted us from the other side of the road when we went on our daily walk and genuinely seemed to mean it when they said ‘how are you?’, for those who stood on their driveways and clapped for the carers, for the gratitude paid to the essential workers, the bin men, the shop workers etc. who kept society running….. But have we already forgotten all this? Some people will be looking forward to getting back to doing all the things that they did before we discovered the words ‘covid-19’, ‘lockdown’ and ‘social distancing’. They are excited about the ‘new normal’ which will be just like the old normal. But for others the ‘new normal’ is going to be very different from that which went before. For those who have lost loved ones during the pandemic (whether to covid or to other causes), for those who are suffering from long- covid and those who have had vital treatment delayed due to pressures on the NHS it is not possible just to go back to the old normal. Just as some people are excited to see society coming back to normal there will be others who are still very scared. There will be many people who can’t wait for large gatherings to resume. There will also be those who can’t yet face that, who are still scared to go outside their own home. As a society we are going to need to encompass both sides – and all those who sit somewhere in the middle. We are going to need to learn to be considerate of others in a new and different way as we all try to navigate the ‘new normal’. But this isn’t the first time that the world had been asked to embrace a new normal. Much of the teaching of Jesus was based on turning the old normal upside down. He told us that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. He told us that the meek and the poor are blessed. He taught us about a new normal. So as we start to navigate our new, post-covid normal I hope that we can remember those positive ideas from the first lockdown and work toward a ‘new normal’ that reflects all that Jesus teaches us.