Due to the lockdown we cannot ensure that our people recieve their church magazine, so we include it here for free: May Magazine
I don’t know about you, but the lockdown is starting to get a little old. There was, at first, an element of excitement and novelty as the restrictions came into place. Then there was an element of settling into new routines, finding new things to do, taking up new hobbies maybe or drawing your rainbow or decorating a cross for your front window. There has also been a renewal of the ‘Dunkirk’ spirit, a sense that we’re all in this together, and we’re supporting the NHS and key workers as they care for us. But now as we enter May I’m starting to feel feed up. I want to see more than just the rooms of my houses and the greenery of my garden. I want to see people, not just on video calls, but up close and in person. I want to eat food in a restaurant, to watch films in the cinema, to chat to people I don’t know very well, and most of all, get back to worshipping God together, especially on a Sunday. Yes, the lockdown has lost its’ novelty value, and I’m feeling well and truly fed up, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Into this feeling of weariness God has something to say to us in the Scriptures. In a couple of verses which feel as if they could have been written with this lockdown in mind, St Paul writes to the church in Galatia and says to the Christians there:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. - Galatians 6:9-10
Lockdown is wearying, and If we’re not careful that can effect our relationship with God, as well as with other people. It’s easy in isolation, isn’t it, to shrink back from spending time with God - reading our bibles and praying - and it’s tempting to stop doing good and reaching out to others because it is far harder than it used to be. Before, if someone from church was feeling down, no problem, we’d pick a cake up from Asda and nip over for a brew. Now there are long queues at Asda, and we’re not allowed to nip anywhere, especially to other peoples’ houses for anything as ‘unessential’ as drinking tea and having a natter. Now, if someone is feeling down chances are we won’t know, and if we do somehow find out, well I have to work out how to use video calling, and I have to battle the queues and leave a cake on their doorstep. Doing good has become a real faff. Much easier to simply not bother.
But look at what the Apostle Paul tell us: ‘Let us not become weary in doing good’, why? ‘for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up’. This time of lockdown, then, is a bit like being a gardener, something many more of us can appreciate right now. There is the exciting time at the beginning; when we buy the seeds, plan where they are going to go, plant the seeds one by one into the ground, and give them the initial water. This is like those first few weeks of lockdown; new and exciting. But then comes the period when not much happens. The soil still covers the seeds, and we can’t see them growing. All we see are the weeds, and we quickly get bored of weeding. But a wise gardener knows that they have to keep weeding, feeding, and watering their planted seeds even when not much seems to be happening, because underneath the soil those seeds are growing. In the same way, our spiritual life, is hidden from the world, and often enough hidden from our sight as well. We are tempted to give up feeding our souls (reading the Scriptures), we are tempted to give up weeding (battling our sins), we are tempted to stop watering our hearts (regularly praying), and as a result we are tempted to stop doing good to others. BUT says St Paul, keep your eyes on the future. Keep your eyes on the harvest which is coming, just as the gardener does, and you will persevere through this weary and tough period. Keep praying, keep reading the Scriptures, and keep encouraging one another in the ways that we can to find ways to worship God. And as we do, says the apostle, ‘as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers’.
The time will come when the lockdown is lifted. There will come when we will be able to leave our homes, see our friends, eat in restaurants, and gather together to worship. Equally, there will come a time when we see God face to face, and He will show us what difference this time of ‘gardening our souls’ made to ourselves, and made to our communities. So ring that friend, buy that cake for the isolated neighbour, write that letter to someone in church you have not seen, and talk to your loved one about the difference Jesus makes to your life. ‘[F]or at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’ (from Rev. Mike)