September Letter from The Ministry Team
Revd. Philip writes about playing out part.
As I sit writing this article our country is preparing to remember the 75th
anniversary of VJ Day which marked the unconditional surrender of Japan and the effective end of the Second World War. As Chaplain of the Knutsford branch of the Royal British Legion and Padre of 2056 (Knutsford) ATC, on the Saturday I shall be overseeing the laying of wreaths at the new war memorial. In my prayers I shall be remembering those who lost their lives in the bitter struggle against Japan, either as combatants or as prisoners of war, and thanking God for the years of peace that we have enjoyed since that conflict ended. I sense that there is less excitement over the 75th anniversary of VJ Day than there was for VE Day a few months ago.The conflict in Asia was far removed from the everyday lives of people in this country. Japanese bombers did not attack our cities; this country was never in danger of invasion by Japanese forces. With the end of the war the people of this country wanted to put the conflict behind them and get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible. It was with good reason that the soldiers, sailors and airmen who returned soon referred to themselves as the ‘forgotten army’.
The commemorations this year have taken place against the background of another conflict as our country has battled the COVID 19 pandemic. Unlike the war when most of the casualties were young, in this recent conflict the most vulnerable are those who belong to the older generation, those who have underlying health issues or belong to certain ethnic groups. The government has evoked the wartime spirit of discipline and self-sacrifice as it has attempted to persuade us all to adapt how we live our lives to best combat the spread of the virus. The self-imposed isolation of those most vulnerable, washing our hands longer and more frequently, social distancing, wearing face coverings; all these require that we make choices for the greater good. Some people have taken this on board to the extent that they have not felt able to be with loved ones when they have died. Sadly others, as Patricia and I discovered during our recent break, ignore the advice and behave as if the virus does not exist. I believe it was with a sense of desperation that the local authorities in Preston begged young people there, ‘Don’t kill granny’. A stark warning of the consequences that could follow ignoring the government guidance.
Recently Patricia saw a sign in a department store which read, ‘We’re in this together’. That includes the churches in this country. Having had to remain closed since the beginning of the pandemic, we can now reopen for public worship, but only if we follow a strict set of hygiene rules. These make being in church different from how it was before the pandemic, and I know that some people find it disconcerting to have to social distance, wear a face covering and not be allowed to sing. I very much hope that the ‘new normal’ as it has been called will only be temporary, that before too much time has passed we will be able to come to church, sit where we want, sing hymns, enjoy refreshments after the service and engage in our usual social events. Until then we must all play our part in doing what we can to minimise the spread of the virus and safeguard the health of everyone. In the early years of the Christian Church even pagans noted how Christians cared for one another and for those around them. It would be good if the same can be said for us when the threat of the pandemic has passed
If you are lonely or finding life difficult and would like to talk to someone please telephone one of the ministry team whose contact details are the contacts page of this website. All conversations are in strict confidence.