From the Rector
I was reading a Leading Article in my theological journal, an article that reflected upon the way the world in general, and our own nation more specifically, has responded to and managed the coronavirus pandemic, both in terms of what has passed and in the light of the probable second wave, with which we are all having to cope now.
Amidst some fairly depressing paragraphs, one sentence stood out as a candle of optimism:
‘one side effect of the pandemic has been the revival of civil society, as people rediscover the importance of the local community.’
Time and again over the past six months we have heard and read stories about how initiatives in the towns and villages across our land have enabled countless vulnerable and lonely people to survive and, just as importantly, to realise that they have not been forgotten.
Equally significant has been the evidence of ordinary people doing things entirely of their volition to help and watch over their neighbours who, for whatever reason, have found Lockdown and the other restrictions especially hard.
Our newspaper even included a short series on Saturdays of readers’ letters, all of them expressing gratitude and amazement at the depth of the local response.
Here in our villages this has been exactly our experience too. Our shops have been magnificent, opening every day as safely as possible, organising deliveries for those who have been sheltering, and even making up boxes of supplies for households whose home budgets have been decimated by these unprecedented times.
A whole raft of local people have taken it upon themselves to phone elderly or lonely villagers, just to check up on their well-being and to offer a friendly voice.
The civil society has come to the fore and in the words of that article we have most emphatically rediscovered the importance of the local community. It’s more than likely that these qualities will be needed again if the national trend of growing infection continues.
Perhaps the most important lesson we have learned, or maybe relearned, is that every single person, regardless of age, background or ability, is precious and worthy of our care and attention.
When Mother Teresa of Calcutta, now St Teresa of Calcutta, was asked how she could tend and care for such desperate examples of humanity in the gutters of the city, she replied that in each disease-ridden and emaciated face she saw the face of Christ.
Every person, without exception, is made in the image of God. Every person bears the divine stamp.
Each time we make the effort to reach out to a neighbour, especially to one we don’t know very well or have never spoken to, we honour that divine likeness. The image might have been blurred by the vagaries and challenges of life, but it is still there and always will be. Maybe our humble efforts of help and a listening ear ca
n play just small part in enabling them to know that they are precious and indeed a beloved child of God.