Being a grateful Church in times of lockdown

Who could have guessed, this time last year, that a few weeks later we would find ourselves in an unprecedented and totally unexpected global crisis. With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading worldwide, extraordinary measures were taken by the governments of many nations, many of which are still in place today. One of these measures has been the lockdown, which has varied from country to country but everywhere has had a heavy impact on personal and community life.

For Christians, there also have been the restrictions that have made it very challenging to come together as a community for liturgy and activities. The lockdown has taken various forms: from a total ban on public liturgies, to the livestreaming of Sunday celebrations, initially with four, and now fifteen, participants, to allowing public liturgies with limited participants.

Encouraged by the many small and greater opportunities, we have been guided by these words of the Bible: “The Lord himself will lead you; he will be with you; he will not fail you or desert you. Have no fear, do not be disheartened by anything” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

We are deeply grateful for all those community members who have volunteered during this period, serving as stewards, as Livestreamers, as musicians and lectors during the liturgies; cleaning the church, the chapel, and Sint-Kwintenshuis; washing church linens and albs; and so much more. And so, with St. Paul, we say, “We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

Grateful for so many people giving witness through small acts of goodness.

Grateful that we still have been able to get together, even if sometimes with only a few.

Grateful that we have been able to open the church, so that those who wish to do so can come for a brief, or not so brief, visit — to pray, to meditate, to light a candle, to place food items on the Advent “Solidarity Table”. With the Bible, we proclaim, “Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord” (Psalm 23:6).

Grateful that we were able to celebrate Denise’s Confirmation and the Feast of Sint Kwinten, as well as the baptisms of Elise Geleyn and Anastasia Arblaster. Grateful that the Community Team has been in regular contact via the internet.

Grateful to God, who never abandons us, we exclaim: “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).