Message from Bishop Rachel

Published: March 23, 2021

It is exactly one year since we went into lockdown, and so the charity Marie Curie, supported by the Church of England and other partners, is marking today as a National Day of Reflection.

I suspect most of us have memories and thoughts relating to 23 March last year not least regarding rapid decision-making coupled with uncertainty and anxiety.

I was thinking about this as I walked among the famous wild spring daffodils near Oxenhall at the weekend. I was reflecting on both the trauma of the past year and my delight at the privilege of being vaccinated last week.

It seems hard to believe that in one year we have gone from a  decision about lockdown and all that has ensued regarding a viral pandemic, to a time when people are being successfully vaccinated across our country. So, perhaps more than ever, on this anniversary we are deeply aware of holding together lament and grief, with hope and thankfulness. All have a place and they do not cancel each other out.

I have always loved Psalm 85 and those words in verse 10, translated in the Authorised Version as ‘Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other’. Their beauty is poignant because so often in our lives mercy and truth, and righteousness and peace, are not obvious friends, as many of us will have discovered in situations of conflict or injustice. That is true too regarding lament and hope, and grief and thanksgiving. They are not obvious partners. Yet, today on this first anniversary of lockdown my prayer is that we will be those whose lives speak of  lament and hope kissing each other, as grief and thanksgiving meet each other.

The symbol used by the charity Marie Curie is a daffodil, and as I walked among thousands of them in their bright yellow glory, I was reminded that they were also there on 23 March last year. Beneath the cold dark soil of recent months, the transforming love and hope of God’s life has not ceased.

In our weariness and lament may we open our hearts and minds to the creativity of God’s spirit at work within us and around us, trusting in the truth that the hope of God in Jesus Christ cannot be destroyed. Today and in these days of Passiontide, the pain of the cross is in sight and so too is the hope of the empty tomb.

Today I’m putting yellow daffodils in the window, and tonight at 8pm it will be the flame of a candle, bearing witness to lament and hope, and grief and thanksgiving.

With thanks and prayers as ever

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