One of the great challenges of this period is the massive amount of change that the Covid-19 pandemic has forced upon us in such a short period of time. Many of the routines and patterns that we took for granted were taken from us with no warning.
Change can be exciting and exhilarating, but it is also exhausting and emotionally draining. It forces us into new ways of doing things, which takes extra energy and leaves us grieving the old ways that we have lost. And when change happens so dramatically it can be traumatic.
I attended a 'webinar' (a seminar online) recently, where someone who has experience of working with relief agencies in situations following some major disaster was speaking. He was saying that there are three phases after a major disaster: Response, Recovery and Reconstruction. The response phase is when you have to make the sudden and major adjustments to the initial disaster. Reconstruction comes when the threat has totally passed and people can move confidently forward from the disaster. However, the recovery phase comes in-between and it can be much longer than you imagine: usually months, sometimes years.
We are probably in the recovery phase to Covid-19 now. The initial shock of change has passed, but the emotional effects are still very much with us and if we are honest effecting all of us in different ways. We need to be honest and open about this and also more alert to the strain and pressure this will put on others we work with or are in contact with.
At the same time as people are recovering from the trauma of the initial dramatic change we are faced with further changes ahead. At some point in the next few weeks or months we will be allowed to have church meetings again. However, this is unlikely initially to be back to church life as normal. We may have to restrict the numbers at any one meeting, have social distancing in church, communion in one kind only, if at all, and we may not be allowed to sing together. Also, some people will be eager to come back to meeting in person, others because they are shielding or simply worried may not want to join us. I heard this morning that when churches re-opened recently in some parts of the United States only 20-30% of the normal congregations turned up!
There is hope, though. Eventually we will enter the time of reconstruction. At St. Luke's we will want to ensure that the Bible-centred, informal and family friendly style that we are used to is maintained. Yet, we will also as a community be changed by the whole experience. We pray that God will use this experience to shape us to be the kind of disciples he wants us to be with a mission that is better fitted to a post-covid19 community.
One change that we are looking to implement is live streaming. This is both to help keep people connected when not everyone will be able to attend whilst shielding and social distancing are in place, but also to help us reach out in an internet world. Do read the notices below to see how you can contribute to that.
There may be other positive changes that come out of the present situation. Please do pray, reflect and talk with one another about what you think these might be.
Indeed, let's pray as we move forward, that God will help us find peace and comfort in the recovery phase after the traumatic changes of recent times, but that he also leads us gently through the uncertain times ahead to a wonderful time of reconstruction.