Last night - a Saturday Night - it was announced for the 10 o'clock news that we will be able to reopen the church in just over a week's time. Open for public private prayer again. We knew that the shops were to open and finally the faith aspect of life was seen to be as important as access to greetings cards or body lotion. A grudging, reluctant admission that there is still a place for organised religion in our society.
This news only came after the announcement that Sunday trading laws are to be relaxed to help the economy recover. That might make some sense to those whose only aim it is to balance the nation's books but it fails to take into account what we've learnt in Lockdown. For if we've learnt anything we've discovered that people matter to us. Relationships and social interaction are important. We need to see each other face to face and enjoy the presence of other human beings.
It seems to me that we should have learnt that the one thing we don't need quite so much is the opportunity to go shopping.
By relaxing the Sunday trading laws more people have to work on Sundays. Fewer people are able to meet up with families and spend time together. It seems that at this point when more than anything else we need time to reconnect the government can only see pound signs.
In the end we only have so much cash that we can each spend. Most of us will find ways to spend that amount in six days just as easily as we can spend it in seven. The myth that Sunday trading helps us is destroyed when all other large economies on the continent survive supremely well with far stricter rules on which shops open on Sundays. Those countries can see that families and relationships matter more than the chasing after more money. There they see the need for people to be able to rest together and enjoy each other's company, to take a break from work so that they are refreshed and restored.
Before we rush back into ways of living that destroy us as a society we need to reflect. Surely this space to think should have shown us that our time together is precious and not to be taken for granted. Sending people out to fill shops on Sunday is not the way forwards. We need to build more resilient communities where strong relationships can hold things together in times of trial. This is what these last twelve weeks have shown us. Let's not miss this opportunity to change direction and follow a new path that leads to life. For our existence is made up of more than the sum of our possessions. Surely we've realised this in these last weeks!