Here we are in the middle of a second lockdown. A 17-day long ‘fire-breaker’ it is being called. With NHS intensive care units filled to capacity in Wales, “Doing nothing is not an option”, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced on Monday 19 October.
Conequently we find ourselves not able to meet ‘in-person’ for worship again, including on three Sundays. We are of course now, much better prepared than we were for Mothering Sunday, when the first national lockdown came into action back in March. Our Online Services are continuing (keep an eye on Facebook) and our Dial-A-Church-Service line (01244 566311) is being revamped, with special services you can listen to at your leisure that will mark All Souls Day (2 Nov), Remembrance (8-11 Nov) and Advent Sunday (29 Nov).
The last of the three Sundays that the fire-breaker affects is Remembrance Sunday 8th November. This year, there will be no parade services from Caergwrle to Hope and in Penyffordd and our churches will be closed on Remembrance Sunday. This is very sad and unfortunate indeed, but we can all still commemorate Remembrance.
After his announcement on Monday 19 October, Mark Drakeford was soon asked what affect the firebreaker will have on Remembrance Sunday commemorations. The First Minister replied,
“There will be an exception for Remembrance Sunday.. It seems to me more important than ever that we [commemorate Remembrance] during a period where further sacrifices are being asked of us all. Organised events, small in scale and very different to previous year will be able to go ahead.”
The Royal British Legion (UK) this year is encouraging us to “Remember At Home”. Within this magazine, we have included some ‘very different’ ways to ‘Remember At Home’.
It is true that many of us are being asked to make sacrifices at the moment. It seems that just as we were starting to get some degree of normality about our lives again – going back to work, school and church etc – the importance of the ‘new normal’ being different to the ‘old-normal’ is being re-emphasised to us again.
In our 4 o’clock Sunday service in Hope, before we pray for the needs of the church and community, we take prayer requests from the floor. A member of our congregation asked recently if we might “pray for all the people at the moment who are fed up”. A strong agreement hummed across the congregation and pray we did.
I confess to you that I have been a little ‘fed up’ recently too. With last month’s local lockdown restrictions placed on us, I was delighted when I realised that Talacre beach is in Flintshire – we now had somewhere ‘different’ to go to celebrate my 11-year-old’s birthday – only to switch on my email to learn that Year 8 (the 12-13 year-olds) from Castell Alun were now being asked to self-isolate. We would be celebrating another family birthday at home.
Coronavirus continues to affect us all, be that directly or indirectly. We can feel lonely or anxious, stressed and cross, frustrated and tired, and there of those who are not well. And some of us are now even bored or ‘fed up’. We long for this ‘war against Covid’ to be won and passed as we make personal sacrifices – where relationships are restricted, social gatherings are gone and income for many continues to drop. I’m sure many of us have thought at some point that which the first world war soldiers are said to have thought as they travelled overseas to the trenches that “it will all be over by Christmas”.
Covid we can be fairly confident won’t be over by Christmas. For us as Christians however it’s important that we ‘remember’ that we still have hope. Covid may be with us at Christmas, but so will be Christ. Covid may be with us now during Remembrance, but so is Christ. Compared to the soldiers (and their families) of the wars, many of us (granted, not all of us) are being asked to give up relatively little – e.g. luxuries of social gatherings – and we trust the ‘war against Covid’ and the hunt for a vaccine will not last nearly as long as the war years. Then compared to Christ – we are far from being asked to sacrifice our lives to atone for the sins of humankind!
This Remembrance, as you put up your poppy in your window, keep the silence, and give thanks to God for the peace that we continue to enjoy, may you pause and remember Jesus Christ too, and the hope and healing, strength and forgiveness, joy and peace, that he offers to us – even ‘feeds us up’ with – as we keep trusting him to help us adapt to our ‘new normal’.
Rev Adam Pawley