A week is “a long time in politics”. If that is true, how long is a “year living with a pandemic? 12 months ago, Nicola and I had just returned from a wonderful week in Spain. We were a bit surprised there was no one at Gatwick checking our temperature as we passed through passport control and customs. We had become increasingly aware in Spain of a growing concern about a potentially deadly virus, but we passed through the airport unnoticed, as did others who will have been infected. But in the notices on the first Sunday in March, Covid-19 did not even get a mention. The following Sunday (8th March) was the first time I referred to it. I lamented the shocking scenes of panic buying and I suggested that if you did not want to shake my hand after the service, I wouldn’t be offended. But we still sang out our hymns, chatted to one another before and after the service without having to think we were too close to one another and no one wore a mask. The following Sunday (15th March) was the last time we gathered for worship before lockdown. By the middle of the week before the Prime Minister announced the lockdown we had already decided, following advice, that it would not be safe to gather for public worship.
In the 12 months that have followed, I am proud to say that, whilst our building may have been closed, the church has never closed. We have continued worshipping together. We have enabled the Food Hub to continue its vital work of feeding the most vulnerable. We have Kept In Touch with one another. The Elders in particular have worked tirelessly to ensure the church can still function. We have met, online, with friends across the world. Coffee mornings and Sunday Club are now regular online events. In other words, we have adapted to the crisis creatively and we will continue to do so.
Over the last 12 months we have become all too familiar with the terrible death rate from Covid-19; the disruption to our children’s education; the exhaustion of front-line workers; the impact on the economy and individual businesses and livelihoods.
Meanwhile, in laboratories around the world, amazing scientists (even before Nicola and I were in Spain) have been working on vaccines to help prevent us being hospitalised and dying from Covid-19. I have no idea how they do their work and how they can produce effective vaccines in such a short space of time but thank God we have such people. The fact that so many members of Purley URC have already received at least their first vaccine against Covid-19 within 12 months of our first national lockdown is one of the great triumphs of any generation.
As I write this brief reflection on the last 12 months there are joyous signs of Spring being just around the corner. A new day is dawning. Thank God.
With love and prayers, Russell
Posted – 3 March 2021