A lot can happen in three days! (Just ask Jesus)

Reflections on Brisbane’s lockdown from a local minister

On Friday January 8 at 6pm, Brisbane went into a three-day lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19. All day there was panic buying at the shops, traffic gridlock, plans were changed at the drop of a hat.

As a Pastor, I’ve had to learn to be flexible. On my first mission trip to Cambodia I learned the motto: “Everything is subject to change without notice at any given time.” In 2020 we had to apply this, and it seems in 2021 we might need to follow this principle even more!

So how do we as believers make the most of our time in lockdown? Many people spend the time just binge-watching TV and on social media. It’s so tempting to see lockdown from a worldly point of view. But how do we look at it from Kingdom perspective? I think the key is to come up with a plan, otherwise time gets away from us.

The first thing I had to do was prepare our church to go online!

Thankfully, we learned a lot about online church during the 2020 lockdown, so we quickly got the word out and everyone prepared their parts of the service. I love the fact that churches have had to up-skill themselves in media during 2020, it’s a silver lining to this pandemic. Every Pastor became a Televangelist – in the positive sense of the word, hopefully! Most churches that I know of had a massive increase in reach through online church, and many people have been impacted all over the world through various media platforms.

On the Friday, night we organised a church prayer zoom meeting. Zoom has been so useful to connect over the past year. It has been around for a while. Did you know that when Joseph and Mary were looking for a place to stay, they asked if there was any teleconferencing available? And the Innkeeper said there was no “zoom” at the Inn! (I just had to throw in a dad joke!)

Across the weekend I also did a few Facebook live videos updating people and praying with those who joined in. It’s amazing how many people we can connect with online. When there are so many negative things online, it’s a great platform for us to reach out and shine a light to others.

… even in the middle of a pandemic – in the presence of our enemies, he prepares a table for us. He wants to be with us.

Over this past year, one of my priorities has been Family Devotions. When the 2020 lockdown began, we started reading a chapter of the New Testament at the breakfast table together. Then we’d go around the table asking what really stood out to us. We have had some great discussions and prayer together as a family. Thankfully we are still doing this daily – well most days we still do it! I follow a daily Bible reading plan where I read through the Bible each year (you’re welcome to use it too – here’s the link).

We made sure as a family that we did daily exercise together, and we limited screen time for our children. We played some board games, did some cooking and did some work around the house.  I’m a big fan of Christian movies, and we did watch a few good ones together.

During this lockdown, I’ve been reflecting a lot on Psalm 23 – especially verse 5. It says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

When you think about a table, this is a place where you enjoy food and drink and fellowship. That’s what the Lord does for us – even in the middle of a pandemic – in the presence of our enemies, he prepares a table for us. He wants to be with us.

He anoints our head with oil – a symbol of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. And our cups overflow.

In the Middle East, when someone fills your cup, it means they don’t want you to leave their place. When they stop filling it up, it means it’s time to go! Our cup overflows… This means the Lord will never leave us or forsake us. And the blessings we’ve received, will overflow to those around us!

Paul says in Phillipians 4:11, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” That’s the good thing about our relationship with God, we can be content, in lockdown or not, He is always with us!

Matt Prater is Pastor at New Hope Church Brisbane and an Announcer at Vision Christian Radio

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