Today, we are told, marks the 200th day lived under lockdown restrictions for Melburnians. The past 18 months have been tumultuous where everyone has had to adapt and we were not excluded. We conducted three Assembly meetings virtually, in June, August and October 2020. After emerging from our 111 day lockdown (8 Jul 2020 to 27 Oct 2020), Victorians enjoyed an almost normal life from Nov 2020 to July 2021 and we were thankful to have held our first face to face meeting at the Commission of Assembly in May 2021 at Camberwell Presbyterian Church, since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.
We had three short lockdowns in Feb, May and July 2021 and Melburnians are now in day 15 of our sixth lockdown and our hopes for a face to face General Assembly in October are fading fast. We look to the Lord for comfort and hope in such times. Our Moderator-Designate, Rev Peter Phillips chose this passage as one of the passages that he would be preaching from on Opening Night.
‘Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
and who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were cut
and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
2 look to Abraham, your father,
and to Sarah, who gave you birth.
When I called him he was only one man,
and I blessed him and made him many.
3 The Lord will surely comfort Zion
and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
4 ‘Listen to me, my people;
hear me, my nation:
instruction will go out from me;
my justice will become a light to the nations.
5 My righteousness draws near speedily,
my salvation is on the way,
and my arm will bring justice to the nations.
The islands will look to me
and wait in hope for my arm.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment
and its inhabitants die like flies.
But my salvation will last for ever,
my righteousness will never fail…’