This week, I am reproducing words from the service booklet that has been prepared for this afternoon’s service, Alice’s First Eucharist as Priest and President.
Last week, if you choose to look at it this way, Boris Johnson became the first political leader since Oliver Cromwell to impose significant legal restrictions on the celebration of Christmas.
It has been a worrying week! At one point, we were concerned that we might be required to close the church doors once again to comply with tightening restrictions. We give thanks that this has not turned out to be the case. We are able, in fact, to continue as we are. Our building and our practices are compliant with current Government rules and national church guidelines.
The discovery that it is September again has challenged my sense of time. The year to date has been so odd that the rhythm of the weeks and months, the passing of the seasons, doesn’t seem to have worked in quite the same way as I generally experience. The pandemic crisis began as winter was giving way to spring. Now, the crisis is far from over and we are already at the threshold of autumn. Throughout this period, many of the normal markers that divide up the time of our lives have been absent. Each day has been very similar to the last and to the next.
There are different kinds of tiredness. Being away on holiday I was able to rediscover the wonderful kind of tiredness that one experiences after a day of walking in the countryside with no responsibilities and few decisions other than which ale to choose to accompany one’s lunch. This is a very different sort of thing from the emotional weariness of long periods under stress, when heavy responsibilities and impossible decisions weigh on the mind even at rest.
Over the last few weeks I have been using this column to explore some ‘lessons of the lockdown’. I began by reflecting on the painful privilege of prayer. A fortnight ago I shared some thoughts about the importance of places and things in our spiritual lives. Last week, my observations centred on the way in which crisis brings out both the best and the worst in human nature, and on the need for the love of God in Christ to overcome our fear. In this fourth and final reflection, which accompanies the sermon in this weekend’s e-Church my theme is the need to keep Christ at the centre.
This week I offer the third in a series of reflections on the lessons of the lockdown. I began a fortnight ago by writing about the painful privilege of prayer. Last week I explored the role of places and objects in our spiritual lives. And this week I want to share a few observations about the way that being in crisis brings out both the best and worst in human beings.