17th March 2021

If you went out regularly for walks before the pandemic, you may, like me, have been struck by the greater number of folk doing so now. Our footpaths, open spaces and streets are rarely empty these days, not least with whole family groups enjoying the experience of shared exercise. We’ve also noticed friends commenting that they no longer allow the rain or cold to put them off. If formerly they’d have postponed their walk until the weather was less inclement, now they just wrap up warm and go anyway. How much of this continues once the pandemic emergency is over remains to be seen, but for the time being patterns of behaviour have changed.

I wonder whether this past year doesn’t also prompt us to review our behaviour, the patterns of our Christian discipleship. It’s disturbingly easy to slip into comfortable compromise, into a manageable, christianly way of functioning that acknowledges Jesus and his place in our lives, but also seeks to minimise potential risk. We’re willing to follow him, but preferably along the roads and in the neighbourhoods with which we’re already familiar – nothing too unknown, please.

But will that guarded way of being a Christian suffice in the ‘new normal’ world emerging around us? Has it ever sufficed? Ministry in changing times is always challenging because it may require us to ring changes in ourselves when we don’t know where those changes might take us! Such ‘walking by faith’ is rarely the easiest option, but it may be the only authentically Christian one available; in which case, it’s surely time to wrap up warm and go anyway.

Ken Stewart