Forrest Hill Presbyterian Church

LARGE ENOUGH TO SHARE, SMALL ENOUGH TO CARE

Pastor's Pen

(Post-Easter reflections)

19th April 2020

This year the lead in to Easter contained many distractions, not least of which was the looming concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic. I must confess, some sort of Lent fast passed me by, but lo-and-behold there we were giving up meeting together and (in my case) wearing shoes except for running. I have found the solitude of taking exercise in the fresh air all alone to be therapeutic, yet it reminds me of the enjoyment of running with others. I have found the challenge of delivering ministry remotely a stimulating learning experience, yet I am ever conscious that we are a gathered church of real flesh-and-blood people.

It's interesting to hear about what the level four r?hui isolation restrictions will do to people. I guess at one extreme you have the guy currently imprisoned for deliberately coughing on people at the supermarket and claiming to have Covid-19. He has been officially classified by the prime minister as an "idiot". You have people covertly arriving at their Marlborough Sounds cribs in the dead of night to avoid detection, because apparently the lock-down rules don't apply to the "entitled", intent on their customary Easter break. For others, the level four restrictions have heralded a kind of sabbath, with more time to think and make things better. Entrepreneurs have more time to be creative. All this must be tempered with the sobering financial train-wreck that this is causing. Worry about businesses, mortgages and livelihoods are all too real for so many. What I find illuminating is that this crisis starkly reveals some of the existing issues that we have been happy to leave on the back-burner for years; the eye-watering cost of getting into the housing market, the staggering cost of rent, the gaps between rich and poor and so on. If you live from payday to payday to cover rent and your job just disappeared, plus you live in a dodgy rental with a less than sympathetic landlord - what next? Coronavirus might jolt us out of our 'she'll-be-right' Kiwi ways. Perhaps we will innovate around our economy more, and look to the talent within, while seeking a diversity of markets and opportunities. Whatever our circumstances, this season will give us pause for reflection and evaluation perhaps even an opportunity to re-wire priorities and directions, spiritually, relationally or vocationally. What is it that we really value? I am thankful, that even in the solitude, I have been blessed working more than usual, getting up to speed with YouTube, Zoom and the Wix blog platform. My phone battery keeps croaking from all the phone calls. My 'square-eyes' working self has come to value my daily fresh air like gold. Time away from work is now deliberate and intentional. I feel blessed to live in a pleasant and safe community with quiet streets. My learning about unfamiliar technologies has been stimulated. I am alert to offerings of creativity broadcast by others. I have observed within myself a lock-down life-cycle - denial, anxiety, grudging acceptance, peacefully regarding my situation, adapting and looking for learning possibilities and a silver lining. Easter reminds us that from death and sorrow, new life will spring up. Let's not be naive and think that there is a quick fix for Covid-19. Autumn is upon us and winter is coming. There is a way to go. Yet through this time life and ministry will continue, opportunities for recreation and laughter will remain. The rainbow is one of the most enduring biblical images of hope. Easter tells the story of the Christian hope most completely. So this storm will pass and in faith and love we will remain a people of Easter hope.