A Corona Kaleidoscope —Rejoicing and Mourning: Justice and Mercy

Lockdown seems to magnify things.

Of course life is always a kaleidoscope of celebration, joy and achievement, of new opportunities and everyday routine, of sadness and of loss; yet these emotions often seem especially intense, in these early weeks of lockdown and learning to live with COVID-19.

The daily reports of the cost of this virus in life and livelihood, at home and across the world, take a high toll. We grieve the cost to our own loved ones and to ourselves; we grieve for the grief of others, though none of us can truly know another’s pain. We watch the daily statistics and long to see the numbers of cases and of lives lost fall and continue to fall; whilst we are all too aware that each ‘number’ is a precious life. We mourn, individually and collectively.

So perhaps we are not quite sure what to make of the unanticipated joys of lockdown. Maybe, given what has caused us the extra time we have, we are not quite sure if it’s okay to delight in those blue-skied sunny days, when we take a midday walk as we never used to. Or perhaps it is because of these times that we can be enchanted by the no-longer-stolen half hour sat at the window, watching birds we never noticed before, gathering scraps for their nest or, in time, for their chicks.

We are frustrated because we are not all able to get the hang of video chats, so grandparents cannot even see their grandchildren, let alone hug them. Yet we are learning new things and celebrating new achievements, in these times, too: for some of you, how to teach and learn maths and history and art around the kitchen table; for others of us, how to record Sunday worship and stream on YouTube. 

These days can be something of a roller coaster. The bible is both realistic and hopeful about the joy and sadness of life; and the bible encourages us to support each other through both. Something that, maybe, we see COVID-19 is bringing home to us, in new ways. The apostle Paul commends (Romans chapter 12 verse 15 onwards): Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

We wonder, in these heightened times: how will it turn out? What happens after lockdown? How will we live with COVID-19? How will we find normal again? What might a new normal look like? And then we remember with shame and humility that too many people have lived and lost their lives for too long in other turmoils: abuse, poverty, hunger, discrimination, persecution, displacement, conflict...

Dare we dream that there could be a new and better normal, not just for our nation but far, far wider afield?

Dare we dream to see more of the effects of the Kingdom of God that Jesus talked about, in the world even now?

God spoke millennia ago, through the prophet Micah (chapter 6 verse 8), ‘The Lord has told you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’.

How does that look for a way forward?

For all who mourn, we offer our prayers for comfort; for all who find joy, we offer our prayers of thanksgiving; for our next steps, may we seek justice and mercy and humility before God.