2021. Will it be better than 2020? We have much reason to ponder on what a new year will bring with Covid and Brexit still very much on the agenda. But as Ecclesiastes remind us, there is nothing new under the sun and I suspect it will be a long time until we can put all this behind us.
Despite the gloom and anxiety we have had to endure, it’s important that we should reflect on what has gone and learn from it as a church.
Our worship has had to adapt to a very different world. Zoom was anew prospect, but our services have been appreciated by those who have joined us, some from many miles away, and we have experienced all types of worship and music—the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, the language of Jesus, the Gloria from Lagos Roman Catholic Cathedral, complete with massed swaying choirs, the Aaronic blessing, which we use, but sung in Hebrew—and much more. I hope this will give us the confidence to continue to enjoy a wide variety in our services from now on. I couldn’t have done any of this without our IT wizards Leo, Paul and Ian, who have been so very patient and helpful.
Inevitably the Pandemic will mean that some of you may not return to church; maybe because you have lost your confidence, or perhaps your health issues have worsened. If this is the case, keep in touch because you still matter to us. Covid rules have decreed that you should not receive visits, but this will change as the vaccination programme gathers pace.
I have come to realise just how much the church means to many of you; being back in church has clearly been an emotional experience, and many of you who are perhaps occasional worshippers or convinced non-worshippers have stopped to talk to me about the situation. I really value these conversations so keep them coming!
I recently saw a picture of a Syrian refugee family who, some years ago, made the journey to Europe and were granted Asylum in Germany. On the left of the picture was a small boy, one of four children. That small boy grew up to become a medical researcher and was leading scientist responsible for Pfizer’s breakthrough in discovering the vaccine will that eventually release us from the threat of Covid. In Germany Asylum seekers are permitted to work; here they are not, struggling to survive on miniscule handouts and help from charities.
In 2021, let’s ensure that all those fleeing violence, injustice and cruelty, like that family, are welcomed and given the chance to contribute to our society by working, but are barred from doing at present. Haile Selassse, former emperor of Ethiopia said “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”
Speak out for those who have no voice this year.