Reflection from the Rectory
New Year is often a time our minds begin to ponder new beginnings and to make resolutions to live differently usually in ways we feel will be healthier. This year that feels different as many hopes for 2021 are that vaccines will not only bring the Covid-19 virus under control but eliminate it permanently! We are truly blessed to have two vaccines licensed and a vaccination program being rolled out.
But I don’t think we should limit our ambitions to a Covid free world, wonderful though that will be. I think that is too small an ambition. The coronavirus, terrible though it is, has taught us things and strengthened in many neighbourhood the sense of community it would be a terrible waste to lose that when the vaccine brings change. We have seen a renewed respect for those working on the front lines in occupations which have historically been undervalued and under paid, our experience of our need of these workers must surely find its expression in our looking to our politicians to take seriously their contribution and to ensure they are paid fairly for the responsibility they carry and the duty of care and deep courage they have shown. It has reinforced for us the importance of our National Health Service and our need to not only respect and cherish it but to ensure it has the resources to continue to serve us effectively.
The Church of England has faced a challenging year too in which we have had to face the reality of past failings, particularly with regard to safeguarding the vulnerable and our neglect of some of the Gospel freedoms which should lie at the heart of our faith. We have seen how differences in theology can be divisive and destructive to national church unity and we have struggled to discern how best to address that. The financial cost of the Covid infection, as for so many other parts of society is deeply challenging to the national and local church, and it will bring change which will not always be easy or perhaps popular. But we have learnt to adapt and minister differently and we have been able to embrace new technology in our life of faith and worship in ways that two years ago would have seemed fanciful at best. We must learn from these experiences and develop them, not rush simply to get back to how things were. We have had an opportunity, born out of necessity, that has allowed us to think outside the box in the most creative ways. I believe God was at the heart of that inspiration resourcing us not just for the pandemic but with the tools we need to reach out in a highly developed and developing technical world. That should excite us with the possibility and potential it opens in our service of Jesus. We must not lose these gifts but continue to explore and develop them.
A different world is coming into focus but the virus remains a very real and present danger. We must each seek to do everything we can to protect ourselves and our communities in these next challenging months. We must hold on to the hope that a new year presents by leaning from the year that has passed. It would be so easy to just try and forget 2020 but that would be to squander so much that it has taught us and disregard all those we have lost on the way. Instead let us remember with love those we have lost, identify the positives that we can, and build on them for a brighter tomorrow.