Comment by Harborough churches: If we keep thinking of others, the path out of the pandemic will be shorter

Eveery week, the Harborough churches write for the Harborough Mail. This week, it is the turn of Revd Barry Hill who leads the team of Church of England churches in and around Harborough

Monday, 26th July 2021, 10:00 am
Revd Barry Hill

Viewpoint by Revd Barry Hill who leads the team of Church of England churches in and around Harborough

In this new phase of the pandemic, emphasising personal responsibility, we each face dozens of decisions every day. Each small decision may be entirely inconsequential, but it could have life-changing effects on someone. Which it is we’ll probably never know, so how do we live well? It involves both freedom and responsibility.

At the heart of Jesus' call is freedom for individuals, for society and all creation. As St Paul writes, 'It is for freedom Christ has set us free'. But for Christians, freedom isn’t about asserting our personal rights; it’s a much bigger vision. God offers to make us right with him so we are free to serve others – not to earn love, but in response to receiving it.

Every day for Christians is freedom day – freedom to serve others, especially those most vulnerable or who feel overlooked.

As we make choices about how to function as churches, we’ve invited worshippers to keep four people in mind in the responsible decisions we make. First, the person we are next to may be undergoing chemotherapy or have an immune suppressing disease. Secondly, the person we come close to might catch a mild form of the illness but then go on to contract Long Covid, causing them to be off work for extended periods or to have a severely limited quality of life. (I’ve seen this first hand through my wife’s experience).

Thirdly, remember the person who is anxious about being where lots of others are. We’re reminded most mask wearing is to protect the other person, not the wearer. Jesus invites us to cast our anxieties on him as they are often too heavy for us to bear alone. And finally, remember the family member who has been made unemployed, whose wedding has been delayed, or was unable to be with a loved one as they approached death.

There is not single right answer to how we then act, when we wear masks, how we keep distance, when we isolate because we feel a bit under the weather, whether we chose to take the free twice weekly lateral flow tests. But to be free means being free to chose not what is best just for us, but for others like those above, all of whom represent real people in our community.

There’s always a small minority of people who behave selfishly. Thankfully over the past year we have seen in our community that they are the exception not the norm, but when we are exhausted and sick of restrictions, as most of us are, let’s not react to the odd selfish act by saying “well if they’re not doing it, I’m not”. That way lies the path to ruin for us and for those we love. But if we keep thinking of others, the path out of the pandemic will be shorter.

By Revd Barry Hill leads the team of Church of England churches in and around Harborough