About a month ago, the authorities introduced stringent measures to combat coronavirus, including homeschooling, distance working wherever possible, the isolation of Uusimaa from the rest of the country, quarantine, social distancing and so on. These measures are collectively referred to as “lockdown”. Lockdown varies in strictness from country to country, but everywhere it means limits on movement and contact.
At first I thought my work as a priest would be transformed. How could I continue to minister to my parishioners without physically meeting them? Without communion? Without the Katupappilan Olohuone? Now that I am used to the new situation I have been able to take stock, and have come to the conclusion that my work has not changed all that much after all. We still have services every Sunday morning, albeit without communion. I still prepare prayer material, but I video it or email it to others rather than saying the prayers in person. I still have funerals, but without the wake afterwards. I still talk to parishioners, only over the phone. I still have meetings, but online. I still have confirmation school, but that, too, is online. The same is true of other church workers, who continue to do the work of the church.
My home life has not changed much either. I get the children up for (home-)school, go shopping, cook, wash up, watch Netflix, all the things I used to do BC (Before Corona). I am amused at newspaper articles that claim that we all suddenly have so much more freetime to fill. I haven’t, nor do many other working people or students.
Nor has the situation of the church overall changed all that much. It has a more or less guaranteed income, derived mainly from taxes. There are, however, numerous companies and institutions of all kinds whose activities have been drastically affected by the lockdown: libraries, restaurants and cafés, tourism, the transport sector, entertainment and sport, for example. And there are numerous individuals whose lives have been radically affected – old people in quarantine, workers who have been laid off, entrepreneurs whose businesses have gone bankrupt, the lonely, the anxious and so on. Lockdown does not affect us all equally – some are barely affected, while others are suffering.
There is always somebody who is worse off than you. This lockdown is a particularly good time to remember that, think of those others and find a way to help them. Treat them as you would like them to treat you if you were in similar need. For further information, please read Matthew 22:39 and Leviticus 19:18.