This week marks the beginning of Step 3 in the English roadmap out of lockdown. There are new freedoms and opportunities. As the elders were praying earlier in the week, we thought about some of the different ways that we will all be feeling and responding as we emerge into relative freedom.
Maybe you feel like a bear emerging from hibernation with a sore head! For you, the lockdown has left you disorientated, maybe slightly grumpy and uncertain about what the world is like now. You don't want to be awakened, and as you emerge you wonder whether anything has changed!
Or a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. A gentle but dramatic process. The butterfly is obviously very different to the caterpillar that existed before the season of hiddenness in the chrysalis! You're emerging from lockdown feeling quite different about life, and maybe even a different person. For you, the lockdown has been a season of discovery and change and intimacy with God.
Maybe you've had a very challenging lockdown. It's felt like extreme pressure and heat is being applied. But extreme pressure and heat change an unstable sedimentary rock into much stronger rocks like marble, and slate and quartz, each more beautiful and more useful than what came before. Extreme pressure and heat even produce beautiful diamonds and other gemstones. For you, the lockdown has been i-n-t-e-n-s-e but also transformative.
Or think of the seed. Small, unexceptional and lifeless. Or so it seemed! Just wait until you put the seed into the ground, apply water and warmth. It grows! First into little green seeding, and then over years into a great tree. Your lockdown seems to have started something new, but you're not at all sure yet what is going to grow.
What about you? Are you the bear, the butterfly, the diamond or the small seedling? Or something else?
How are you feeling as the nation emerges from lockdown into the relative freedoms of Step 3 and meeting people in person in larger groups than you've done for months? Perhaps you perceive some social pressure to come out of your place of hibernation, back into the world? Your diary is filling up, and you feel slightly anxious? Or maybe you're eager to get back to business-as-usual?
As we all emerge, we are all feeling quite differently, and that's OK! Let's be gentle with each other but supportive. Ask each other, "how are you feeling about this season?", and "how can I be praying for you?" As we gather in larger groups, do remember to make space for people that are feeling more vulnerable. Don't crowd them!
And let's look for what God has been doing in each other and in the church, rather than just expecting business-as-usual. Remember, as we've been learning from Isaiah, God would say to us, "I am doing a new thing! Do you not perceive it?"