Thoughts on Freedom
As I write in January, we have entered our third period of lockdown because of the Covid 19 pandemic. Numbers being infected are rising rapidly, as are hospital admissions and deaths. Vaccinations are taking place increasingly quickly, but there seems little prospect of the situation being much better soon. Most of us are having to adapt to a very different and constantly changing world. We are realising that we are all vulnerable – in the words of James 4:14, ‘You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.’
Freedom from …
So how have we at the Vine responded to this emergency? We have become more aware of those who would find periods of enforced isolation difficult, such as the elderly, the infirm or those living on their own. Our weekly church newsletter has been distributed to all members of our congregation, by email, What’sApp, post or hand delivery. By April we were filming a short Sunday Worship service involving a wide range of people, when possible filming them in (more attractive/tidy) parts of their gardens. We set up a system of Garden Churches, groups of up to six meeting weekly to study and pray in someone’s garden. We have used modern technology, with Zoom prayer meetings and as it became too cold to meet outdoors, Zoom House Groups. For those unable to use such technology, telephone conversations provide a link and the assurance that no one is forgotten.
During the Autumn it became difficult to provide a weekly service, except when we were not in lockdown. Even then we were limited to 22 attending physically. So we provided suggestions about other Sunday services people can access, but our aim is still to produce at least one service each month ourselves.
Freedom to …
This is the other aspect of freedom. We all want to maintain our right to individual freedom as far as possible and perhaps are unhappy with the lists of new rules, whilst recognising their importance in keeping us safe. But in many parts of the world, people’s freedom to live as they wish is always limited. They may not have enough food or clothing to survive or be free to hold certain beliefs. They may have no access to medicines. This has been brought into sharp focus in parts of East Africa where harvests have failed because of drought, floods or wars. Now Covid 19 has arrived and there is no money to pay for vaccines or the infrastructure to administer them. So should we use our ‘freedom to’ urge governments like our own with abundant supplies to make them available in these places, for example?
We hope that we will regain freedom to meet and celebrate Easter in early April. Easter reminds us that Jesus came to this earth to set us free. By His death on the cross, he took all our sins upon Himself, freeing us from the requirements formerly stated in the law, which was impossible to keep completely, providing we confess our sins and seek to follow Him. His resurrection on Easter Day provides the hope of our own eternal life after our physical death. ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.’ (Galatians !:5)
Enjoy your Easter!