Church column: It’s been deeply moving to see people come together to offer support to others in need
Revd Barry Hill, Team Rector of Harborough, The Church of England, will be writing a weekly column to help those in times of need during the coronavirus pandemic
‘It feels like a dream’. So one person said to me this week. A new normal for a while, huge adjustments and with all the emotions that go with them.
Thanks to the Harborough Mail for invitation to write this new weekly column, which I look forward to sharing with other church leaders across Market Harborough.
For many of us, after the energy required to make initial changes, we are perhaps beginning to realise we are in this together for the long haul. It will be hard. We will have to learn as a society how we face isolation and mortality, anxiety and vulnerability, uncertainty and fear. Learning how we live well with greater powerlessness and dependency on others.
Given all of that it might seem strange to say I’m full of hope, and yet I’ve witnessed and experienced so much in the past weeks which gives me cause to enter this new season hopefully.
Most of the worst and best things are contagious. As panic and hoarding are amplified by others, so also is kindness, generosity and living sacrificially.
Over past weeks, it’s been deeply moving to see people come together to offer support to others in need. The school staff who chose to give up a weekend to parcel food for those receiving free school meals in anticipation of closures. The market trader who called me offering toilet rolls and cleaning products to those we know in need and without. The supermarket manager who chose to come in much earlier than usual to help seniors in particular need.
The child who chose to call people they knew who might not have anyone else to speak to that day.
Church members who pushed notes through the doors of neighbours to offer help for those self-isolating, and the response of those not self-isolating who received notes and offered to join the volunteer bank so as to help others. The local farmer who offered hundreds of eggs to those in need. The people in self-isolation using new found time to pray for NHS workers.
The stories from across Harborough alone could fill this paper cover to cover.
Like many Christians, I’ve found new depths of hope in God’s love and provision, seen both in others and direct in prayer. Christians remember at Christmas and Easter how Jesus risked far more than coronavirus so that it would be possible for him to offer to never distance from us, across all the different seasons of life.
Together, whilst rightly encouraged to save lives by physically distancing, we’re learning that is not the same as social or spiritual distancing.
To quote the old cliché, it’s a marathon not sprint. We need to take care not to burn out on adrenalin-fuelled kindness, but instead make kindness and hope habitual. Habits which mean we
emerge as humanity in better shape to face myriad other challenges in the months and years ahead.
Revd Barry Hill
Team Rector of Harborough, The Church of England