Easter services during lockdown
“This is the day when Christians remember that three days after his crucifixion, Jesus was seen and spoken to by his followers, and seen by many different people. This was the confirmation of all that Jesus taught and preached during His three-year ministry, undeniable proof that He was really the Son of God and that He had overcome death once and for all.
“But this year, the celebrations have been different. Because of the lockdown due to the pandemic restrictions, we were not able to gather together, in church buildings or elsewhere, and so have been celebrating in our homes, through the use of technology and through the use of common prayers and readings done at set times each day. And while this has been hugely important, this coming together at the same time though separated by distance, it isn’t the same as coming together in worship and fellowship in each other’s physical presence.
“There have been some benefits to our worship during isolation for sure. We have been joined by people from Dunoon and Rothesay – from the two churches in this linked charge – and from people in other churches across Dunoon. We have been joined by family members and friends from across the country – from London to Edinburgh, Derby to Darlington and places in between. We have been joined by people who are on the way to moving to Dunoon, delayed by the lockdown. The services have been accessed by many different people, and more people have joined regularly than we might have expected. This period of lockdown has perhaps allowed for a greater focus on the disciplines of Lent and Holy Week, and the enforced quiet for so many has given a space for reflection and prayer.
“But we have missed the opportunity to come together in our spiritual homes, the ‘wee church on the hill’ that is Holy Trinity, and the church on the front that is St Paul’s in Rothesay. We have missed the physical actions of the liturgies – the processions of Palm Sunday, the walk of witness on Good Friday [sic], the gathering outside in the dark before the Easter fire on Holy Saturday, walking in to the darkened church and lighting the candles and singing the Exsultet – the great song of praise. And we’ve missed the sharing of communion, the remembering of our Lord’s great love for us in the sharing of bread and wine.
“While we may have missed all of this during this time of lockdown, this time of forced isolation, for many, many people, isolation is the reality of their lives every day. There are people who are isolated because of physical difficulties, or social problems, or because of their mental health difficulties. There are people who are isolated because they are ‘different’ or see themselves as ‘not fitting in’. There are those who are isolated through economic circumstance, or social injustice, those who are isolated through their own ignorance or wilfulness. Isolation – loneliness – separation – this is perhaps the essential problem of human existence, and has been brought into sharp focus as we have all been forced in to it at this time. And this is why Christ came – so that God could be with us in the most intimate of ways – in and through the person of Jesus Christ.
“So maybe these strange times are an opportunity for the church -Christ’s people (not the building) – to join in God’s mission of being with people – whoever and wherever they are – sharing God’s love, affirming their worth, building God’s Kingdom.”
Printed 17 April 2020