Sunday, 16 May 2021

Praying for better things to come...

THERE is a natural order to our observations of Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Ascensiontide and Pentecost that creates a great spiritual journey that we trace and travel from year to year.

Every year it’s the same, every year it’s different. The narrative doesn’t change, but we do; the content remains the same, but the context changes. Our lives do change from year to year, so the Easter story reveals something different to us each time we hear it.

Last year, the country went into lockdown on March 23, resulting in Easter services in church being cancelled. Most people had been confined, the weak and vulnerable especially so.

This was the time we learned to use new tools like Zoom for our services. Seeing people we know and love on screen became a substitute for meeting them in the flesh.

Sadly, this didn’t suit some of the congregation, those without the technical equipment or knowhow and who felt the most isolated.

Those who could join virtual services heard the Easter message. We sung the Easter hymns we all know, safe in the knowledge that we were all muted so we could sing “Thine be the Glory, Risen, conquering Son” with gusto!

This year, the message is the same as last year, and will be the same next year, although some of the hymns may change.

But there was a change this year. Churches were allowed to be open for communion at Easter; social distancing rules only permitted congregations maybe a fraction the size we might expect on Easter morning, and the singing of hymns was forbidden. Looking outside, there are signs of spring, with flowers coming into bloom, and my lawn is looking as though I must extricate the mower from the shed.

But as I write this we are suddenly going into reverse with a very cold blast coming into the country from the Arctic. But it cannot change the fact that spring is here and summer is on the way.

Just like the promise of spring and summer, promises of more relaxation from lockdown is on the way as the data is all moving in the right direction in the UK.

However, there are many countries where this is not so. I’ve just heard that India has experienced 100,000 new coronavirus cases and Brazil 4,000 deaths, all in one day. We are a long way from ridding the world of covid-19.

Easter last year, there was a confidence that by the summer we would be out of the pandemic and getting back to normal. There was some movement that way but, as we know, the winter once more put the NHS under great strain and many people became seriously ill and of those so many sadly succumbed to the disease.

Easter this year has also given us some confidence as at least some were able to celebrate in church and, with many others, I look forward to attending church next Easter with a full congregation and singing “Thine be the glory” with the confidence and enthusiasm the hymn deserves, to encourage us to hope for better things to come.

Let us pray that this year the confidence is well
founded.

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