Well, what to say about all of this?
Shelves empty, businesses struggling, schools closed, the vulnerable isolated, exams postponed.
From a church point of view, services have been cancelled, a wedding has been postponed, funerals are being cut back, and a lot of our regulars aren’t leaving their houses.
However, we are learning how to make this work. We are saying morning and evening prayer via a video conference called GoTo, we are going to be filming something to put online for Mothering Sunday and we are developing a phone ministry to contact those without internet access.
Nationally, communities are coming together. If you forget about the stock-pilers and the person who knocked on an old lady’s front door and said ‘do you want any shopping done?’, took £20 off her and did a runner, if you ignore those kinds of things, there is much to be celebrated.
Communities are working out how to help the vulnerable. Neighbours are beginning to look after each other more than they have done before. Small businesses are finding ways to get their products out to people who cannot come to them.
Many of us have even more respect for the heroes on the front line of our society: the medical professionals, the refuge collection people, the shelf stackers, the checkout staff, the milk men and ladies, the delivery drivers, the people without whom society really would all fall apart.
I’ve found myself thinking about the generation of my great-grandparents. It was those people who lived through one or two world wars, the Blitz and rationing. I’ve been wondering what Jim, Ann, Wilf, Phylis, Lily, George, Arthur and Alberta would think of this. I have so much love and respect for them because of what they lived through.
My Granny tells me that when her town was still in rationing, she developed whooping cough. The local people brought what they could to try and help her get better – in many cases, it was a solitary egg, because that was all they had to give. I don’t know about you, but I get 6 eggs delivered a week, and a box still arrived on my doorstep on Monday morning. Things could be a lot worse!
I think what I want to say is, this is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to serve those around us better. It is a chance to learn to be more sensible and frugal in the way we live. This is a pivotal point in our world. We can let it form us into a better, stronger, kinder and more compassionate people. Let’s look out for each other.
I was going to be preaching on Sunday, but now I’m not. But the reading I had picked is from Paul’s letter to the Colossians, and I think it is even more appropriate now than it was a few days ago. Paul says: As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. – Colissians 3.12&15