During lockdown we have met together using Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp. We have had time to walk around our neighbourhoods or spend extra time in our gardens. Without the noise of traffic and overhead planes, we have been able to listen to the birds singing to defend territories and attract mates. Put simply we have rediscover the wonders on natural world that surrounds us. And best of all, it’s free!
We have recognised for some time that nature was under enormous pressure. Human activity, from mining to building new roads and high-speed railways, from clearing forest for agriculture to discarding our rubbish, has been is destroying habitat. Of course, people were concerned about the threats to our environments, but the problem always seems insurmountable.
And then a microscopic organism arrived and changed everything. In just a few short weeks, coronavirus has changed the world more dramatically than years of protest about the dangers of unrestricted international trade that saw the environment as just another commodity to be exploited.
There is much talk about the ‘new normal’. But will that just be a different way of continuing with the same destructive activities as before?
On the other hand, perhaps this is an opportunity to pause, to think about what is important, and to strive for a new normal that sees our role in the world as stewards – tending the planet as a treasure to be passed onto future generations.
A candle lit pudding party was planned by the Eco Group to celebrate Earth Hour in March 2020. This was turned into a virtual event due to the lockdown. It made news in the URC. The full article can be found on the URC web site.
‘For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come… will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:38-39)
God of heaven and earth,
in these times of isolation,
apart from loved ones
distant from friends
away from neighbours
thank you that there is nothing
in all of creation,
not even coronavirus,
that is able to separate us from your love.
And may your love that never fails
continue to be shared
through the kindness of strangers
looking out for each other,
for neighbours near and far
all recognising our shared vulnerability,
each of us grateful for every breath,
and willing everyone to know the gift
of a full and healthy life.
Keep us all in your care.
If I had a pound for every time over the last three weeks that I’ve read, heard or said the words “when things get back to normal” I’d be rich by now. Whether it’s about worship or shopping, meetings or coffee with friends, we are living in strange times where many of us are disorientated by the fact that things are not normal. We may be feeling very isolated, or possibly overwhelmed by all those virtual ways of meeting up. We may be delighting in having time to catch up with half finished projects, or lack the concentration to start anything, let alone finish it. We are having to think and plan differently.Two thousand years ago, in the aftermath of the death of a travelling preacher, a group of his friends were also in a state of disorientation. They reacted in different ways – some wanting to ensure that practical matters were taken care of, some self-isolating for fear of the authorities, some debilitated by all that was happening. And in the midst of this, we have Simon Peter announcing that he is going fishing. In other words, whilst everything around him is so strange and uncertain, he wants something to be normal -and fishing is, for him, the habitual thing to do. Of course, if we go further on in this story from John’s gospel, we discover that the fishing trip is anything but a normal one, and it ends in breakfast on the beach, and the challenge to Peter to respond again to Jesus command to “follow me”.During this rather strange Easter time, we too might want things to be normal. For Peter and the other friends of Jesus, despite their best efforts, they could not return to a previous way of life. The resurrection gave them no choice but to do things differently. Perhaps as we celebrate Easter this year, whether alone with a Bible, or in a video linked act of worship, we might be challenged by Jesus to follow him, not to expect things to return to how they were before, but, in the words of John Bell’s famous hymn, “let me turn and follow you and never be the same”.May you know both the peace, and the provocation of the risen Christ this Easter.