Harry de Quetteville, a writer in the Daily Telegraph, described the impact of the Prime Minister's comment yesterday "No more 'non-essential contact with others'".
The writer said
"In that one technical phrase, in the blink of an eye, all our lives changed..
.. we now must add March 16 to a calendar pockmarked by past assaults."
I think he is right, that, alongside the memory of 9/11, or Diana's death, or the assassination of JFK, March 16 may now be part of our social memory.
From the perspective of March 17 it is difficult to fathom how great the change will be in the months ahead.
Yesterday I spent most of the day preparing to wind down parish events planned for the next month, but by the end of the presentation by the Three Wise Men I was re-writing the emails and website posts to plan a much more painful and long lasting transformation. No Scouts, J Club, Midweek services, Flower Festival, Bowling Club, Mothers' Union, and more to come, all with the willing co-operation and initiative of leaders involved in each of these.
I began the week smiling over the addition of a new hands-free feature of modern life: hands-free washing machines, hands-free phone, and now hands-free welcome! But just a few days later it looks like many of you, the people with whom we share worship, will be out of reach even of the hands-free welcome.
What can we do? Well here are some suggestions:
[ ] Repent and return your massive stock of emergency goods to the Community Hub in Carryduff or the Larder in St Christopher's
[ ] Believe in God whose wonderful Son saves us from sin and delivers us from fear and darkness.
[ ] Follow the advice of government, those for which we regularly pray (2 Tim 1:7)
[ ] Phone a friend - especially older friends and acquaintances - to let them know you are thinking of them and may be able to offer them an ear or even a hand with the shopping or the medicines.
[ ] Encourage one another amidst all the gloomy news - from which we cannot turn away - share a happy memory or how ugh you value someone. It might lift their spirits, and, in doing so, it might cheer you up also.
"Oh, look at the rain running down the window" - I will explain that in a later post.
May the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, the Lord give you peace.