"We're all going on a summer holiday..." or are we? The travel industry has suffered a lot of disruption over the last year as we know and many of us are eager to fill up planes, ferries and trains to take a foreign holiday and with life nearly back to normal why wouldn't we book ourselves a lovely break this summer? But Covid-19 just keeps on creating trouble. Not only is it still riding at high levels across Europe and in other favourite holiday locations elsewhere in the world, but we have had a serious setback on our own shores.
And so this is Christmas - 2020 style...
Covid-19 restrictions necessarily mean limited numbers allowed physically in our church, no carol singing for the congregation and of course no sharing hugs and greetings to wish each other a lovely Christmas as socialising between households or bubbles is strictly not allowed. The rules about no processions, no sharing the Peace, no common cup remain in place too. How can we welcome everyone warmly when we have to restrict numbers to less than half our regular congregation?
The PM has announced another lockdown - not quite the same as the first one but close : Stay at home, protect the NHS, only essential shops are to remain open and churches are to close their doors once more. Many of us realise the urgent need for this extreme measure but some are resisting mainly on the grounds of damage it will do if children cannot play sports after school in their clubs, if businesses have to close in what has been an abysmal year for many, if churches cannot continue to offer safe peaceful spaces and support people spiritually.
Right from the start of this pandemic we have seen tensions between those who have simply done what they have been told by the authorities (politicians, doctors, scientists) and those who have resisted (conspiracies, fake news, or it's just a sniffle...).
I can't breathe
Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz did something unusual.
There was a sign that read “Black Lives Matter”.
With faces masked, eyes closed, each holding white rose, 12 priests from the Diocese of El Paso knelt in silence.
For 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
The same amount of time a police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd, who later died in custody.
Happy Easter everyone! Passover, Easter and now Ramadan have all been seriously curtailed by the current lockdown - the three most important festivals of three major world religions have needed to adapt and for the most part have done so brilliantly. And one tool which everyone has now discovered is the joy of linking up 'face to face' via video conferencing.
To avoid plagiarism and breach of copyright the Pope's words have been slightly altered without loss of meaning.
Jesus is condemned to death
We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world
Some people seem to think our current state of 'lockdown' is really holiday time. The warm sunshine recently has been welcome but has enticed many out of doors to visit popular beauty spots. The Government has had to point out that visiting Mount Snowdon or the Lake District are not included in their idea of 'essential' trips out of doors. So, the 'stay home' message is now being enforced by the Police who have recently granted powers to fine and arrest the persistent offender.
Once again just as you get a grip on things the goal posts are shifted...but honestly after seeing crowds of people out over the weekend this clamp down was inevitable. Life did just get simpler in a way: church is off and out of bounds! But that's only the building of course - church is very much still on but the question is how to turn the fellowship into a physical reality whilst we are separated from one another. This experience may highlight something of what life was like for the Christians in the earliest centuries.
Every pm a statement from the PM - and a corresponding shift in plans...
Sunday morning we struggled a bit. What with strict hygiene and distance rules in place, changes to our usual ritual practices. no physical contact at the Greeting of Peace and no shared Chalice it felt a bit odd. Some of our number were staying away, already keeping their distance - all for good reasons. It felt like this might well be the end of Sundays as we have known them...