Well, no surprises about what I need to write this month! It is going to be one of the strangest of Holy Weeks and Easter ever. I am writing this in the week that the Coronavirus emergency really began to bite. No further public acts of worship are permitted in church – and because of the Prime Minister has now put the country in a state of lockdown, we have had to close the church completely. I will, however, continue to maintain a regular rhythm of prayer through the week. You may not have realised or thought about it but I pray for the parish and its people and its businesses on a weekly if not daily basis.
And although we can no longer meet in church for worship, I am hopeful that we can, through the miracle of modern technology, come up with a way for people to follow a service from home.
And amid all the stories of panic buying (anyone got a loo roll? – just joking!) and the growing feeling of public fear and anxiety, there have been some truly heart-warming discoveries too.
Pattingham and Burnhill Green are two communities that really do care for each other. There are lots of people — some regular members of the church congregation and others who might never enter our doors — who care about their neighbours and fellow villagers.
One of the ironies is that by far the majority of those who I would normally call on to ‘lend a hand’ or a listening ear are in precisely that age group which is most threatened and which has been asked to stay in social isolation as much as possible.
One of the first casualties of the church calendar was Who’s for Lunch, which over the past couple of years has shown itself to be so valuable in bringing together people who spend perhaps too much time on their own, giving them the chance for some social interaction and friendship; all gone for the time being. But we will be doing our best to keep people in touch with each other. The telephone will become a vital channel of communication and pastoral care over these next difficult weeks.
Social Media too – while it has its dark side – is also very valuable in keeping people in touch. It is a source of much fake news of course, so must be treated with caution but it is also a source of little nuggets of inspiration and delight – one of which I have sent to our Editor and I hope he has found space for later in this edition.
During the crisis, we may not be able to deliver your magazine to your door as usual. We are, however, looking at alternatives.
It seems particularly appropriate to finish this month with prayer. May you and your families enjoy a happy and healthy Easter: remember that without the Crucifixion and the sadness of Good Friday, we could not have the joy and happiness of Easter Sunday. And we are, above all, People of the Resurrection.
Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy.
Sustain and support the anxious,
be with those who care for the sick,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may find comfort knowing
that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
God bless and keep you safe.