At first there was the Response to the crisis. For us it was about how were we going to function as a church and look after people? This phase was all about adrenaline and decision making - though some of those decisions were changed almost as soon as they were made. Our team pulled together and we did a pretty good job.
At that point we thought we might be in lockdown for three weeks and then emerge blinking into the early summer sun with the worst behind us. But now we can see that this is not going to happen. It looks like we have another month of severe restrictions with then a gradual loosening of the valve so that we eventually find our way back to a life that is sustainable.
The first information we were given was flawed. It underestimated the danger that this virus posed. We looked at Italy and Spain and thought well that won't happen to us. Whilst we have avoided the meltdown of our intensive care capability the number of deaths in our nation now looks like being the worst in Europe. Our leaders made decisions based the best evidence at the time but no one could quite comprehend just how bad this situation was. This is natural. No one wants to believe the worst. We all hold tightly to our well formed framework of what the world looks like and we don't want a virus to mess with it.
It seems to me that we are now in a phase of Realisation. We can no longer pretend that we will all be alright. Even graphs on the daily press conferences will not protect us. We have to realise that the world has changed and we have to find a new way to do life.
This year has not turned out as we expected and we need a new vision for 2020 and beyond. There are so many lessons to be learned from what we have experienced in these last seven weeks. Lessons about who is important and how much we need each other.
To have 20/20 vision means to see with clarity what is in front of you. It looks certain that the world has changed. There will be surface changes like the wearing of face masks and the number of people allowed into a shop that will go on for some time. But there need also to be deeper changes of perspective; about valuing one another and caring for everyone. We need to build more resilient communities where people know each other and look out for one another.
Let's not rely on government to make this happen for this can be in our own hands to achieve. The church can be at the very centre of this. Our mission has always been to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith. What if the new communities that we formed followed his example of compassion and love? How about putting him at the very centre of our 2020 vision?