A reflection from the Dean during Lockdown 2.0
9 November 2020
The current coronavirus pandemic has, amongst many other things, provided a good deal of work for medical and social historians. Through radio and television programmes, books, and podcasts these historians have brought to life (as it were) previous pandemics: the Black Death of the fourteenth century, the sweating sickness so prevalent in Tudor England, and the so-called Spanish flu pandemic during which more people died than in the whole of the first world war. Human society eventually emerged from these pandemics, as we will emerge from the current pandemic. But our forebears, like us, never knew how long the health emergencies of their time would last. They lived with uncertainty.
My sense is that we are finding this uncertainty the most difficult aspect of living with Covid-19. The search for a vaccine continues, but meanwhile we have to live with varying levels of restriction on our movement, on the company we are allowed to keep, on what we can buy – and even how we can worship. Thankfully churches have been allowed to stay open for private prayer during the current lockdown, but once again our corporate, shared worship has had to move online. We have become a body whose limbs are dispersed even when we worship.
When our forebears emerged from their pandemics it was into societies that had changed. There were changes, amongst other things, in the structure of human and economic relationships, in technology, and (not least) in medical understanding. All this will be true when we emerge from this current pandemic too. What will not have changed, for Christians, is the narrative arc of the story of God’s love for the whole of humankind in Jesus Christ which is revealed in scripture and in which we have our own part to play. As we learn to live with renewed restrictions for the next few weeks, and with our continuing uncertainty, may we have strength to play our part in God’s story with grace, selflessness and humour.
With prayers and best wishes.