From the Rector
As we enter the year 2021, there cannot be many of us who are not glad to see the back of 2020.
It was the most challenging of years, all of us confronted by issues and dangers that were completely new to us and for which we were unprepared and unskilled.
So much of what sustains us and nurtures us was denied to us by the implications of coronavirus: contact with our loved ones, vast swathes of our social life, holidays, village events, family celebrations, worship in church; the list goes on. Never before have we been required to keep ourselves going while missing out on all this. It was hard for all, very hard for many, and too hard for some. We feel fully justified in being thankful that the old year is over.
Very near the end of the year, I was blessed to officiate at a wedding in our Benefice, one of only two which took place in our parishes all year.
All the other couples who had booked weddings perfectly understandably opted to postpone until late in 2021, so that they might be able to have the style of celebration for which they had hoped and planned. The wedding that did take place in December was unusual, as it was staged with all the distancing and hygiene restrictions in place, only 17 people present and no singing. But the message on which we pondered and prayed at that wedding is perhaps one that can help sustain us as we move tentatively but hopefully into a new year and a year that we can only pray will be easier and smoother than the last.
We paused to consider St Paul’s simple but profound words in 1 Corinthians 13, ‘love never ends’. In the dark days of lockdown and isolation we all discovered the human dimension of those words. The reassurance of our dearest loved ones, even if that had to be communicated by computer, tablet and phone, meant everything, and we knew very quickly that it would take much more than a vicious pandemic to stifle that outpouring of love. And St Paul’s words found fresh meaning in the astonishing proliferation of acts of kindness and compassion with which our communities were enfolded; so many people doing extraordinary things to care for and support those who were deemed to be more vulnerable or needy. But those wedding guests were also reminded that God’s love never ends either. In another of his Letters, that to the Romans, Paul affirms ‘nothing can separate us from the love of God.’ It is a basic and crucial truth that every single one of us is precious and unique in God’s eyes.
He has loved us from eternity, and nothing can deny us that divine love.
Many centuries ago, the great Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, captured that truth beautifully: ‘but now thus says the Lord, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
As we move into this New Year, with hope for better times ahead, we do so with the knowledge that ‘love never ends’ and that God has called us by name and we are his.