Life in Lockdown

The below is a copy of an email sent by Andy to the St Simon's church family on January 6th, 2021. It begins to help Christians think through how they might live as God's people in these strange times of lockdown.

Dear all,
We'll be updating you in the coming days about plans for Sunday. However before then I just wanted to share something I have found helpful as we look ahead to the coming weeks (and sadly, more realistically, months) of lockdown.

What will it look like to live as God's people during this time? A minister friend of mine suggested three things: look up, lean in and look out.
1. Look up
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
There are two encouragements for us there.
First, we look up and we see God is still on his throne. We may ask, 'what is God doing?' yet we know he is good and he still rules over all. The world is not out of his control, and we know that God works for the good of his people even through suffering (Rom 8:28).
Second, we look up to find help in our time of need. In his human nature, Jesus knows what it is to feel weakness, temptation and need. He sympathizes with us (Heb 4:15) and is ready to give mercy, grace and help to all those who ask. He's ready and waiting to help, we simply need to ask
2. Lean in
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)
Who has not felt that sense of weariness and exhaustion, that feeling of "oh, here we go again"? Whether it be faced with living on your own or the demands of home-schooling or the pressures of being a frontline care worker, Jesus is the place we find true spiritual rest. He meets us in our need; he is gentle with us and kind.
I've found the following words, from a book called 'Gentle and Lowly' by Dane Ortlund, a help:
"He [Jesus] astounds and sustains us with his endless kindness. Only as we walk ever deeper into this tender kindness can we live the Christian life as the New Testament calls us to. Only as we drink the kindness of the heart of Christ will we leave in our wake, everywhere we go, the aroma of heaven, and die one day having startled the world with a glimpse of divine kindness too great to be boxed in by what we deserve" (p22).
3. Look out
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
This is a chance to look out and love each other deeply. Peter talks in the verses that follow about how we're to serve one another with the gifts God has given us. We may be locked down, but there are a myriad number of ways we can still love and serve one another. I've been hugely encouraged to hear of church family doing that over the last 9 months, of loving each other deeply by:
- Picking up the phone.
- Writing a letter.
- Reading the Bible and praying with someone over the phone.
- Dropping a meal round.
- Doing someone's shopping.
- Going for a walk.
- Talking on the doorstep.
- Giving money to someone in need.
- Helping with technology.
- Sending an encouraging text message.
- Asking 'how can I help?'
Let's keep on doing that more and more. The more we look out; the more we love and serve each other; the less isolated we will feel. And let's not limit that love just to our church family. Who are your neighbours or friends who don't know Christ who you're able to show that love to? Who could you send a service or Christianity Explored invitation to? The world is looking for love and hope, love and hope that is truly found in Christ.
Let's pray that each one of us is able to look up, lean in and look out.
With much love,

Vicar, St Simon and St Jude's with All Souls
Andy Liggins, 08/01/2021