It was Saturday morning. In fact it was Holy Saturday, a religious day that my particular flavour of the Christian faith doe not put much recognition into. In fact so little recognition that I struggle to dredge the depths of my memories to recall if I have ever even heard it referred to. I have concluded for brevity that I have not.
Holy Saturday is a much more recognised holy day in the established churches such as the Church of England. I am pentecostal by birth. And by that I mean “born again” birth, John 3:16 birth.
And none of that really matters about what I am wanting to mention in this post simply because on this particular Saturday, Karen and I had taken the dog for a walk and was planning on stopping at the local shop just down the road from where we live to get a few essentials in.
Now the astute amongst you who are reading this soon after I posted it will understand that this was the Saturday morning of 2020’s Easter weekend (I really do hate that term, Easter). It was the Holy Saturday that will be unlike any that most of us have experienced ever before and God willing ever will again, because it was in the throes of the Covid-19 lock down and things were not normal.
To that point I had worked form home for a total of 5 weeks. Karen had been sent home from work for the past three weeks and we had been holding church meetings via YouTube and Zoom. Social distancing was in force (even though the WHO wanted everyone to stop using the phrase social distancing), and we were not allowed to go about our daily lives in the free manner that we were all used to because Covid-19 was, and at the time of writing, still is, running rampant!
We, that is Karen and I were doing our bit for the NHS and staying at home save, for the odd essential visit to the supermarket, as allowed by Government decree, and for a bit of daily exercise, the two things in this instance that we married together.
The fort thing that hit me, bearing in mind this is only a local shop, was the 30 plus minute wait we had outside as the staff studiously only allowed two customers in at a time. We had arrived clearly at a busy point in the day!
But as we stood, and smiled at passers by some of whom joined the queue behind us, as they took the wide sweep mostly into the carriageway of the road to avoid the line of would be customers to the local shop, I got to thinking.
There are many lessons that will come out of this stint of lock down many lessons in society, for the Government, for us individually, for the church and I suspect it will be a period oft referred to in sermons from the pulpit in months and years to come.
But what may we learn from it now?
The reason we are in local down is because in order to fight the virus the Government has imposed the rules on us using legislation. An urgent Act of Parliament was passed and now those who are selfish enough to ignore the rules can be fined for doing so. There is a penalty for breaking the rules.
There is a clear Gospel message in this, but that is not where I want to go.
What I started thinking was how we are all going to feel when this is over. When we are free again to visit family, when we are free again to go to church and meet in our Life Groups, and church services.
Imagine for a moment the feeling of relief and joy and happiness and well, you think of the rest……
We will once again be able to hold our relatives in our arms, our grandchildren can give us loads of cuddles again, we will be able to hug brothers and sisters in Jesus name we will be able to simply pop down to the shop and buy none essential things when we want to rather than having to think about getting everything in one visit (per week) if you are sticking to the rules.
Pause and think forward to that time.
What a picture of Salvation this is.
The Old Testament has a lot of laws, rules and regulations in it. (Not as many as some people think, but it has a lot). These rules and regulations are there for a purpose, (for many actually), but one of the main purposes of those rules, regulations and laws is to demonstrate to us that God loves us and rather then wanting to take our freedom and joy, and happiness away, he wants us to live within certain parameters that will make us safe. Or more accurately make His chosen people safe, be those chosen ones native born Jews or people adopting the Jewish faith as their own.
You see laws and rules are essentially there to keep us safe from harm.
So life is possible under these rules, regulations and laws, as evidenced by the Jewish nation, in just the same way that life is possible under the current lockdown as a result of Covid-19, and please do not get me wrong I realise that it is easier for some and much harder for others, but the truth of the matter is that life is possible, because we are living it.
The rules and regulations bring their own sets of problems and issues, there is no doubt about it, but they place a restriction on us. Shopping, once a week for essentials only. Is one of them. Not been able to go and sunbath in the local park is another, not meeting up with friends, family and workmates except through the internet is another and there are many many more.
But life is possible.
However, what joy, what relief, what happiness there will be when Boris eventually gets on his podium and tells us the restrictions are lifted.
And so it is like this in the New Testament, in the New Covenant made possible through Jesu and the sacrifice he made on the Cross. Pertinent given it is the weekend Chrstinedom is celebrating this very event.
What joy, what happiness, what peace the new believer (and hopefully us older ones) experience when we realise that our sins are forgiven and that we are “free” in Christ. Free to worship, free to love, free to not keep the religious ceremonial laws of the OT. A freedom that is rooted in life and life eternal, free from the curse of sin, free from the consequences of sin.
So perhaps take time to think on this a little. We take our freedom for granted until such a time as it is taken away form us or restricted in some way.
The believer can take their freedom fro granted. If that is you, pause and remember what it was like before you met Jesus and what you have gained since then and thank God afresh for it.
And any unbelievers reading this, pause please and think how it might be. Compare the restrictions of the Lockdown to the freedom of movement you will have when the lockdown is finished and try to imagine this magnified 10,000 times and more if you compare your life not knowing Jesus to knowing Jesus -Probably impossible so let me encourage you, take that step, ask Jesus into your life and experience it for yourself.