When the first coronavirus lockdown actually began is, like so many historical timelines, disputed. Announced on the 23rd March, on 26th March 2020 at 1pm, the first legal restrictions came into force requiring us to stay at home, limiting social encounters and putting most of the economy on hold. We have been in lockdowns of differing degrees of severity every since. A year on, and thanks to the discovery of effective vaccines, we now have a cautious roadmap out and we are told this time it is 'irreversible' (until, presumably, it isn't!).
Whilst we are all praying earnestly to be free of the restrictions that have so damaged and diminished our lives there is something about 'unlocking' the lockdown that creates its own kind of anxiety. We are not sure what the post-Covid world will look like, we know the virus will be around for the foreseeable future and we may have lost confidence in our social interactions with others. At least in lockdown you know where you are; there is a certain kind of simplicity about that blanket instruction to 'stay at home'. Over the next few months, as we edge forwards to greater freedom - checking what we can do, at what date and anxiously monitoring the statistics - we may even find ourselves wistfully longing for the old certainties of lockdown.
We tend to think that after the first Easter Day, there was universal and unadulterated joy and faith amongst Jesus' disciples. In fact, the picture was a lot more complicated. There was great joy but there was also fear (John 20.19, Luke 24.36), doubt (John 19.24) and a good deal of uncertainty (Luke 24.22). In John's gospel we are told some of the disciples returned home and took up again their old trade of fishing on Lake Galilee (John 21). They went back to what they knew. Jesus' first followers stepped into the resurrection life very hesitantly indeed. What gave them the courage to see that there was no going back and that they could embrace a different future without fear was gradually dawning sense that it was true: Jesus was risen from the dead.
As we emerge blinking into the light of a post-Covid world, we need to be kind and generous to one another as we adjust to an uncertain future. We may find ourselves missing the certainties of lockdown or trying to recover a lost world from before the virus struck. This is quite natural in a time of upheaval and change and we will need to encourage and support one another amidst the fear, uncertainty and doubt. But as Christians, we are people of hope, not because of any pollyannaish optimism but because Christ is risen from the dead (Alleluia!) and he has promised that he will be with us always even "to the end of the age". He unlocks our lockdown lives and he is our roadmap for all that is to come.
Episcopal Vicar of Stafford