July 23, 2020
In the late 1980s and early 1990s there were huge discussions around the western world about whether Sunday shopping should be introduced. Eventually, of course, it was in most of Europe, North America and the Antipodes. I, among many others, was opposed to this measure and a broad campaign organisation, including all church denominations and several secular ones, especially the shopworkers’ trades unions, was formed with the name “Keep Sunday Special”. Although the campaign was unsuccessful, it was a force for unity and it came as a great surprise to many of us that so many people regarded the sabbath day-off as a good spiritual and physical thing to do on a Sunday, even if you didn’t go to church. But, of course, the legislation went through and, as we all feared from the Keep Sunday Special campaign, secularism was given a real jolt in the arm and has progressed since then into the enormous force it has in the western world today.
One of the many downsides to advancing secularism has been the increase in the pace of life in our societies and the abandonment of the rhythm which the sabbath day-off brought. There is now no day set aside for rest and refreshment and I can remember shopping in a supermarket one day during the week and the lady at the cash out, seeing my dog collar, said, ”You ought to bring your church here on Sundays; you would have a huge crowd as it’s now our busiest day of the week!” Sunday has now become the new Saturday when families, often with both parents having to work to pay the mortgage Monday to Saturday, do their shopping and take part in a variety of leisure pursuits. The pace has become more frenetic and what has lost out? Church and a time for spiritual reflection.
But are we now seeing a change as a result of the pandemic? Many companies and their employees are finding that working from home is not that bad after all and those who are having to work long shifts, doctors, nurses, shopworkers, etc., are all demanding proper respite periods and a regularly weekly break from their routine. I have read proposals for a four day working week once we’re through the pandemic and there is no doubt that secularism is facing a challenge from people now becoming aware that there is more to life and all the clergy colleagues I have spoken to are seeing an increase of awareness of God from outside the church. At All Saints’ we have seen people we don’t know taking part in our virtual Sunday service and commenting on our Facebook and website pages and we have 8 attendees at the Alpha Course which started this week.
So, through all the distress and upset of COVID19, is the Holy Spirit bringing a spiritual revival to our secularised nation? Is it time to resurrect the campaign and lobby all levels of government to rescind the shopping on Sundays legislation? Are we going to see a new generation who want to “Keep Sunday Special”?
A Prayer of St Chrysostom
Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplications unto you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in His Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world the knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.