Dear Friends,

Next Tuesday, the 23rd March will be the anniversary of when we first went into ‘lockdown’. At that time none of us quite knew what lay ahead of us. But we did have a sense that this was serious. Well, now we know. And having lived through it, each one of us, nothing more need be said. But it may be that for all of us, there is a need to think about just what this last year has meant for us…It is being suggested that next Tuesday should be set aside as a National Day of Reflection. It is being co ordinated by the Marie Curie Charity and is meant primarily as a way of sharing together our personal and collective grief concerning those who have died. But when we come to reflect on this last year there are wider implications and so it is intended to open the Church between 10am & 4pm, for anyone who would like to use the space to sit quietly to ‘come to terms’ with the events of the last 12 months…This is especially important for all of us at this time. We are about to emerge from the present ‘lockdown’ with the very real prospect that it will be for the last time. We are all anxious to move on but we cannot leave the past behind. There is a very real temptation to ‘airbrush’ this last year out of history. A horrible nightmare from which we are presently awakening. Its time to wake up and smell the coffee…I will never believe that what we have gone through is God’s doing. I will never believe that God uses events such as these to punish us. My signature text has always been, ‘God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him will be saved.’ (John 3, 17). But for me that means that under God there have to be ‘lessons to be learned’ – individually, as a community, & as a nation; personally, socially & politically; physically, mentally, & spiritually. And next Tuesday is the beginning of that healing process. It cannot be regarded as an end in itself. It should act as a spur to all of us to continue to explore within and beyond ourselves just what it has meant for us for having to live through these last 12 months…Because if what we believe means anything at all to us, then what we have experienced, as with any other lived experience, should have caused us to mature in our faith. It may have raised more questions than provided answers. It may have forced us to re evaluate what is most precious to us, most valuable. It may have encouraged us to revisit the depth of our spiritual engagement…And in turn, if what we believe means anything at all to us, then what we have experienced will have matured us in our attitude to others. It will have reminded us what it means to love, and to be loved. It will have made us re assess our view of the political landscape. It will have required of us that we reappraise our priorities as far as our own life journeys are concerned…That is why next Tuesday matters. Why it should matter to all of us. And so, if you can, come along to the church during the day and take the opportunity to sit quietly and share with God, and with yourself what it is that has affected you most during this last year. And in the silence be encouraged to believe that your faith will be sufficient for you to begin to rebuild a future that you never otherwise imagined would have to be possible.

The year of ‘lockdowns’