As many of you are well aware, the lockdown in Manitoba has been extended for another two weeks, and is already present in many parts of our country. Although this was not unexpected, given the rise in COVID infections following Christmas and New Years, it is nonetheless disappointing. As much as we might think that things should change, or however we might get upset (legitimately or not) we, as Fr. Thomas Hopko would say, “are called to do, as best as we can with what we got, and what we got is this”.
When this all started, I would tell people that “the end is in sight”, or “this will pass”, or “we are almost there”. Well after almost a year of saying this I am finding that the words are ringing sort of hollow. This lockdown could be extended again, or come and go as COVID infections inevitably rise and fall; and given the monumental task of vaccinating our population, we could be facing some sort of restrictions (however great – like not being able to publicly serve at Church, or small – like wearing a face mask) for the better part of 2021. Maybe I am wrong, but it looks like this is “what we got” for awhile.
This would be totally disheartening if our life as Christians was simply an expression of community, culture, class, or virtualistic conceptions of life. Thankfully our lives as Christians are not expressed in those temporal things, but rather through our faith in a loving and selfless God who seeks to save our broken and mortal nature by assuming it in the God Man Jesus Christ born for our salvation. Transforming it in the Holy Spirit, poured into our hearts, and glorifying it at the right hand of the Father. Indeed as Orthodox Christians, “what we got” indeed is the Kingdom of heaven, that not even “the gates of Hades can prevail against” (Mt.16:18) let alone these restrictions.
I truly wish I could say in good conscience “the end is in sight”, or “this will pass”, or we are almost there”, but I can’t. The only thing I can say is that Christ is with us in this. He is with us in our loneliness, He is with us in our fear, He is with us in our frustration, He is with us in our injustice, He is with us in our struggles, and poverty, He is with us in our sickness, He is even with us in our death; or to sum it up; Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.
I really don’t know what else could be said, or even should be said. Please O gracious and merciful Lord, give us strength to say and hear these words everyday!