Bishop Martin

     I don't know about you but for me, Lockdown Three has been particularly hard.
The days have been short, the weather cold and the news very depressing as the virus spread so rapidly once again.
Passing that awful milestone of 100,000 Covid deaths was a sobering moment and the pressure on health and care staff on clergy and families has been immense.
As a country we have endured more deaths per head of population than any other nation so far.

Every community in the Diocese has been affected, with the loss from Covid particularly acute in some communities, notably where poverty and overcrowding is worse.
As we look to build back better over the coming twelve months, as a nation we must address issues of inequality and injustice that have been highlighted so starkly during this time.
Two of our diocesan priorities as Kingdom People are to transform communities and to share hope - we will all need to play our part in building a fairer and better world.

There is some hopeful news.
The vaccine roll out is wonderful, and every day I hear from people delighted to have had 'the jab'.
Days are lengthening, the sun is growing stronger and there are the first glimmers of hope that the cycle of crushing lockdowns will come to an end.

I'm reminded of verses from the well-known Psalm 121.

I lift up my eyes to the hills;
from where is my help to come?
My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.
He will not suffer your foot to stumble;
he who watches over you will not sleep.

Many people have found solace and comfort in the natural world.
'Lifting up eyes to the hills' perhaps, but perhaps just treasuring a tree outside a window, or the changing sky from day to day.
My daughter has been locked down in central London.
She has discovered a love of birds, putting out crumbs each day outside her London basement flat and watching blue tits and robins come to pick them up.
Nature reminds us that whatever our current problems, we are part of something bigger.
Part of God's world, God's creation.
Ultimately our help and our hope come from the Lord, 'the maker of heaven and earth?
And 'he who watches over you will not sleep.'

May that same Lord of heaven and earth hold you and keep you this day and always.
Amen

Bishop Martin