Comment by Harborough churches:  Let us encourage one another to keep going, in God’s strength - hope is real!

Every week, the Harborough churches write a column for the Harborough Mail. This week it is the turn of Barry Hill, Team Rector for the Church of England in and around Market Harborough

Monday, 1st March 2021, 10:19 am

Viewpoint by Barry Hill, Team Rector for the Church of England in and around Market Harborough

As anyone looking at the traditional syringe shape of some church buildings can see, Christians are big fans of vaccinations!

When, in the 18th century, smallpox killed more than one in ten of the UK population, it was Edward Jenner, a Christian, who pioneered the world's first vaccine, saving countless lives. Shortly before his death, he said, “I am not surprised that [people] are not grateful to me; but I wonder that they are not grateful to God for the good which He has made me the instrument of conveying to my fellow creatures.”

Barry Hill, Team Rector for the Church of England in and around Market Harborough

Just last week, the Mayor of London, the first Muslim to hold that role, received his vaccination in a church building from an Anglican Priest who used to be a nurse and came out of retirement specially to help with the rollout. A further reminder that society works best when everyone pulls together, and each person’s unique contribution is needed and recognised.

The extraordinary rate of vaccine development, manufacture and rollout across the country is testimony to the God-given creativity, spirit of enquiry and hard fought perseverance of so many immunologists, virologists, nurses, doctors, project managers, volunteer testers, GP surgery receptionists and practice managers, social care workers, home carers, pharmacists, logistics experts and many more. We owe them all, including those we know here in Harborough – our friends, family, church members and neighbours – a huge debt of gratitude. As the adrenalin buzz of the early weeks of the rollout move into many months of sustained, less visible, hard slog, may our ongoing gratitude and prayers cheer on all involved.

As winter turns into spring, things are still very hard for so many of us, living in what a colleague refers to as wading through “treacle times”. So it feels apt that Perseverance was the name chosen for NASA’s latest Mars rover. Landing on the red planet a fortnight ago, its mission banner read, “Dare Mighty Things”. Echoing President Theodore Roosevelt’s words, “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

As we approach the anniversary of the first lockdown, with all the emotions, pain and hope it brings, may we encourage one another that every phone call made to someone struggling, every shopping delivered to someone shielding, every jab in the arm, every child inspired by a school lesson into some future essential scientific discipline, some days just managing to get out of bed, is a small daring, mighty act of rebellion against that gray twilight. As we continue to journey towards Easter, let us encourage one another to keep going, in God’s strength. Hope is real!

Barry Hill is Team Rector for the Church of England in and around Market Harborough