This is a photo of the front garden at the Rectory today with a glimpse of the blue sky and the daffodils just beginning to look at their best.
It seems strange to be writing about the ‘hope of Spring’ when there is so much anxiety and uncertainty in peoples lives at the moment. The restrictions on movement and gathering brought in because of the Corona virus pandemic are having, and will continue to have profound affects on society in the weeks and months ahead. The effects on the economy are unknown at this point, but it isn’t going to be good.
And what it will mean for the church….well, we just don’t know. I took the photo on the way back from pinning a notice to the church door saying that ‘all services are suspended until further notice’. I did this with a heavy heart because I believe in the considerable value of coming together in worship, as a loved and loving community. But we do this because we understand the need to protect the vulnerable and to play our part in preventing the spread of the virus, although we can acknowledge the paradox of calling for solidarity and isolation at the same time.
And in acknowledging this paradox, the church needs to look for different ways of coming together in our isolation – committing to saying morning or evening prayer in our homes at the same time each day, using video conferencing, using the telephone to keep in touch, joining online streaming services, and other ways that are yet to come. We need to come together in our effort to look after those most in need – again with regular contact, with offers of shopping, sometimes just with a chat.
We need to be patient – with each other, with the government, with ourselves. We need to be generous of spirit, not packing our trolleys in the supermarket with more than we need and sharing with others if we have plenty.
But here is the hope – that after these difficult times, a better society will emerge, a more caring, less selfish society. Perhaps people will recognise the need to build community, to come together in fellowship, to be in relationship with each other, rather than simply to exist in isolation. Maybe we’ll come to value once more the chat over the garden fence, the coffee after the church service, a handshake or a hug. Maybe we’ll come to value each other, to accept each other in our differences, love our neighbours as ourselves.
Maybe, just maybe……