Lockdown And Praise

Author: Rónán Johnston

Picture: Wallpaper Flare

Lockdown And Praise

Rónán Johnston shares how he and his wife Joanne are responding to the coronavirus with praise and worship-and how others are joining the journey.

God is up to something. He always is.

In early March 2020, the virus, which has since come to be known as Covid-19, was making its way across Europe towards us at what seemed like breakneck speed.

My wife Joanne and I were, like most people, sitting in a kind of mental fog, wondering what exactly to do. Helplessness, powerlessness, “freeze” as it’s sometimes called in psychological circles, can be a strange thing. We see things unfold, yet we go about our daily lives; we have a kind of low level dread in the pit of our stomachs, but we just carry on.

In Ireland, we looked on in horror as Italy succumbed and then Spain. Next, even as we were cancelling the whole St Patrick’s Day festival and telling a million and a half people to stay home, the Cheltenham festival went ahead, as did the Stereophonics gigs and the Liverpool v Atletico Madrid Champions League fixture.

We were afraid.

A Creative Response

We looked at our emails, and there in the inbox was an invitation from two of my bandmates in the Black Velvet Band, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Kieran Kennedy, to join them for an hour of music online. It was sublime. It was the calmest I had felt in about a month. Joanne turned to me and said: “What would this be like as worship?”.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I mean, what if we were to do a bit of worship-just a couple of songs.”

I thought of Facebook Live, something I had never used, but knew it could be done.

It was two days after our own lockdown, and we sat at the piano, set up the Macbook pro and fired it to go.

Our set was short. Three songs. As we sang, we could see people coming online and watching in. Our hearts quickened. We got excited-so excited, in fact, that when it came time to “save and post” at the end of the recording, I hit "delete" by accident.  That was March 28.

It never happened again. Every evening, rain, hail or shine, weekdays or weekends, we have made that appointment with ourselves and the piano (except for once with a guitar). 20 joined us that first evening. Now, 40+ days in, we are hitting 30,000 views.

We led an evening of live praise on Facebook for CCR, which you can watch here:

A Powerful Impact

The steadiness of turning up daily for that 15 minutes has had powerful impacts on us as a couple. It has blessed our household, and our relationship. I believe it has calmed me, but more than that, it has drawn me deeper into a “God’s eye view.”

My heart for people has grown, as has my sensitivity to what doors the Lord may be opening. I even found myself going back to the old unfulfilled prophecies of the past and asking the Lord: “Well, Lord, what are You saying about this? Is this unfinished business I have with You?”

The response has also amazed me, with people telling us this is a solid point of stillness and security for them in their day. A kind of virtual community across the continents has formed, as we check in daily for a short burst of worship together. Not just a moment of reflection, but of reassurance, a reminder that God is working it out, that He is ultimately in control and still promises to be with us throughout.

The fruit is undoubted and yet, as we stand on the edge looking into the chasm of the future, we have no certainty. In some ways, it has taught us the heart of our faith is always a “walking on the water,” putting our feet on ground we’re not entirely sure will hold us.

Yet, with Him, we will find peace, security and a future full of hope.  

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