By Rev Brett Jones
This time last year we were in lockdown facing the prospect of an Easter behind closed doors. 2021 offers us an opportunity to embrace a fresh experience of living beyond lockdown.
It was a challenging time across the Howick community and the nation as a whole. For many, the challenge stemmed from having to cram such a high degree of change into life – as home-schooling took root, Zoom fatigue became a thing and our rhythms were knocked sidewise. At times our well-being felt threatened as we grappled with uncertainty and change. These were uncertain times and we quickly tired of the unprecedented use of the word unprecedented!
But lockdown revealed some things as well. Perhaps Covid-19 did not so much bring change, as it amplified existing realities within our lives. We were forced to pay attention to the good, the bad and the ugly of who we were when cut adrift from our “old normals”.
For some, this meant discovering a whole new opportunity for well-being. Bicycles were dusted off, walking was rediscovered and office bodies squeezed themselves into unused running gear. Neighbours embraced the team chant of kindness and started to explore relationships over the back fence. Mental and emotional health became a shared concern as circumstances diverted many of us into untravelled paths. Lockdown carried with it some unexpected opportunities for self-reflection on what a fuller life might offer us.
The public execution of Jesus on a Roman cross was a lockdown moment for his followers. They became targets for suspicion and were forced to go underground for fear of exposure. Jesus himself was laid in a tomb and the entrance sealed shut. The tomb was put under guard. Locked down. The dream of a new normal had become a nightmare and his disciples were uncertain, fearful and broken-hearted. Jesus had promised his disciples lives of fullness that would transcend their status in society, their past wrongs, their unfulfilled desire for meaning and significance. Not anymore.
When a group of women encountered him alive just three days later, they could scarcely believe their eyes. Word spread to his disciples that Jesus was alive. The dream was not over, the fuller life he had promised was possible. His resurrection pointed to the new normal that would characterise the way these disciples lived: a way of love. Jesus’ death and resurrection had freed his followers to live full lives of love in a fresh way that transcended who they had been. Life beyond the lockdown of the crucifixion was changed forever.
In our Aotearoa-New Zealand context we’re learning to embrace ideas of what a fuller life can look like. We’re learning about how to express wellbeing in fresh ways. Many are discovering the framework of Te Whare Tapa Wha, a wellbeing model with its roots in Maori experience.
Prioritising wellbeing across the physical, mental/emotional, social and spiritual dimensions. Increasingly, to be Kiwi means we are paying attention to our physical needs, nurturing our mental and emotional health, prioritising relationships of kindness and embracing the often-neglected spiritual part of who we are.
Jesus invites people into the same journey. At the heart of his message was the promise of living a full life. Full lives that are freed to love, to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbours as ourselves. This is the heart of the Easter story.
Lockdown revealed some things in us. It amplified some things in us. This Easter as we remember the end of lockdown for Jesus and his followers, we have the opportunity to explore life for ourselves beyond the old normal. You are welcome at any of the dozens of churches in the Howick area as we embrace Jesus’ promise for full lives together.
East Auckland Ministers Association includes more than 60 churches in the wider Howick area. This Easter, Howick churches are looking forward to gathering in-person. You’re welcome to join us.
- Rev Brett Jones, lead pastor cession community on behalf of the East Auckland Ministers Association