This week the number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 passed 100,000. The Prime Minister said it was ‘hard to compute’ that figure. And it is hard. It is hard enough when the death of one family member or friend touches us. Each one of those 100,000 represents a life lived, a grieving family.
Death is always terrible, whatever the cause. But over the last 10 months we have been faced with the daily reporting of death. And as the totals have grown and the grim milestones have been reached perhaps some of the humanity has been lost. And this week it felt like politicians and the media were making some space to see the 100,000 as people not statistics, to acknowledge the families and communities affected (including our own), and to recognise the toll the whole situation – the deaths, the lockdown, the uncertainty – is having on all of us.
What is the Church’s response to all of this? In Jesus we have a hope and a faith that death is not the end of our story. As terrible as death is, we have a future in God’s love. And for those who are left behind we are called to care, to support, to love. The Archbishops are encouraging us to show our love – as well as in other ways – by praying each day in February. There are resources for this on the Church of England website so I invite you to take up that work of love, alongside the acts of kindness and practical help you continue to show.
And on Sunday evening I invite you to join me for Evening Prayer on the feast of Candlemas. This will be at 6pm via Zoom (see details in the worship box above). Candlemas is about the coming of the light of the world in the infant Jesus, a light that would be opposed by earthly and cosmic powers, even death, and would triumph in the Resurrection. It is the festival when traditionally candles were blessed for the coming year. At the online 9.30am service I’m inviting you to have a candle ready to be blessed. At Evening Prayer, we will light these candles as symbols of hope, love and remembrance, and as reminders that we are called to shine with love. I look forward to seeing you there.
A prayer you might like to use in the meantime:
as we remember before you the thousands
who have died,
surround us and all who mourn with your
Be gentle with us in our grief,
protect us from despair,
and give us grace to persevere
and face the future with hope
in Jesus Christ our risen Lord.
With my love and prayers for you,
All Saints Vicarage,
Thursday 31st January 2021