Morning all. There are signs of spring around us and also signs of (hopefully) the final lockdown lifting and us returning to familiar activities such as church in-person in the near future. I have been particularly impressed recently by a recent article by Simon Burton-Jones, the bishop of Tonbridge. He talks about the importance of not rushing into a recovery plan straight away – trying to make up for lost time, because the environment has changed and we cannot assume what the issues we will face are, likening it to arriving at the scene of a natural disaster like an earthquake.
He says: “In 2021 we should hit the ground listening. We are emerging into the open air after an earthquake. All around us, the world has been shaken and buildings have been razed to the floor. The instinctive response is to run to the first piece of rubble we find to try and lift it. The smart thing to do is to walk around and take in the scene. To listen carefully for the quiet cries for help that lie beneath some masonry, to call for assistance, and then to start lifting. We should spend more time than is comfortable listening for these voices. Everyone has a story to tell about the pandemic, but some have lost out much more than others. These are the people we should find and devote our pastoral care on.”
He continues: “Right now, most people are exhausted from the experience of the last year. The house-arrest. The constantly changing rules. The lack of family and friends. The loss of touch. The absence of spontaneity. The anxiety and fear. There has been illness, bereavement, loneliness, mental illness, lost schooling, furlough on reduced pay, redundancy. Our horizons have contracted as the whole population simulated the experience of growing very old, when life narrows and going out becomes harder until you don’t really want to do it. The worst thing we could do right now is a season of megaphone preaching where we tell people, repeatedly, that this year is a not to be missed fantastic opportunity for change we must grasp with both hands. That we just have to work that bit harder for the Lord to make the breakthrough and all will be well.”
Finally, he comments on the fact that the pandemic has been especially hard on lonely people and expanded their numbers so much that we may be faced with a new pandemic of loneliness and that we cannot assume who these lonely people are. We assume older people suffer the most, but statistics show young people to be as lonely, if not lonelier. Part of our response in coming out of this pandemic must be to pay attention to those who need mental health support as well as all of the practical support that comes with these issues.
I hope you will join me in praying for God’s wisdom as we emerge from lockdown to know what things to put our hands to and where to focus our energy and prayer in the coming months. It is a hope-filled moment that we are arriving at – let’s make sure that we pay heed to the one in whom is all our hope – our Lord and Saviour.
Have a great week