Well done, good and faithful servant

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We are experiencing a challenging time with this Covid-19 pandemic. At the most serious end there are people who have died. Both the numbers who have died as a direct infection or a consequence such as not being able to have unrelated treatment has been great. Each number is a tragedy in its own right for the victim and those whom they leave behind. There are also the people who have had serious illness, been impoverished through lack of income or found the experience very disturbing emotionally.

There has also been a tremendous act of service by the staff of the NHS. The work has been hard, dangerous and in some cases fatal. The Thursday clap for the NHS has been a profound act of support by a huge number of people in the nation.

Lockdown came pretty suddenly with a clear call to stay at home. It was supported by an immense provision of money from the government. Ending lockdown will be much more complex. The continuing need to social distance will be important. For some people their life will enable this to happen fairly easily. For some others they will fear that the virus is still present and be reluctant to reenter society. In other ways life will change with high density activities like air flight and cruises being transformed. The practices of working from home will become more prevalent.

Having had such immense changes happen, many people talk about an opportunity to radically reorder society. Can our NHS be taken off the poor funding of so many decades? Can the very pressing issues of the environment and the climate be addressed seriously? There had even been a proposal by the United Nations to end all acts of war. The United States, Russian and China do not support this.

I guess most of us know most of these things. But may I just take a moment and say well done to you. The life and stability of society come from each person each day paying attention to their challenges and responsibilities. You might have done this with particular energy and skill. You might have done it from a position of dependence and accepting the help of others. There are no medals to be given, no ceremonies to put you center stage. But nevertheless how you have lived and persevered has been part of the big picture too. Well done.

We are very familiar with the replies to these words of encouragement. People will say ‘there are people worse off than me’ or ‘there other were people who gave so much more than I did’. All of this maybe true. But it does not deny the fact for lockdown to have been possible many small sacrifices have also had to be made. These are a few words in a parish magazine with a small circulation. They are not about pride but perspective. I have a feeling the row over Dominic Cummings had a lot to do with not finding value in common, faithful citizens.

In managing the response to Covid-19 the government published a list of critical workers. These identified key public services which included religious staff. Obviously paid professional were in mind with that document. But the church is the people of God. Each person with their faith is a vital part of what St. Paul calls the Body of Christ. In travelling through this period of pandemic and facing this next stage of lifting restrictions and societal change each of us do this with faith which makes us who we are.

Just as we should not be shy of our contribution during lockdown, lets not be shy about faith either. This comes down to what it means for each of us. What brings us joy, strength or companionship? These can be shared. We do not do this with a sense of triumph or superiority. We may not find agreement from everyone we share with. But at this challenging time we may have friends, relatives and neighbours who have started to ask about life in a profound way. There has been treasure in our faith that has contributed to our experience of lockdown. We thank God for that because he has first reached out to us. He is as keen to reach out to many other people too.

Best wishes

Alan Keeler