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Our empty streets are filled with love

Rev Helen Garrard reflects on the scaled back VE-day celebrations earlier this month, but is optimistic about the re-discovery of the role of the Church in Society.

As I write this, friends and neighbours are putting away their bunting and fine china, having gathered in their gardens and outside their homes to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, the public holiday that marked the end of World War 2 in Europe.
May 8 this year was not the party that the nation had planned. When the anniversary plans were made, I don’t think anyone could have imagined the significance of the words social distancing, self- isolation, and shielding. Neither could we have foreseen that we would be given daily updates of loss on a scale not dissimilar to that experienced during war.
As an NHS Chaplain, I have witnessed at first hand the devastating impact of this disease on patients but also the effect of ending hospital visiting on families, and the constant anxiety and exhaustion faced by healthcare professionals. We have all had to rewrite the rule book and find new ways of doing or not doing the things which formally occupied and defined us.
A question never far from my mind is, ‘Where is the Church?’ Like most institutions, its physical doors were closed when the lockdown was announced.  However, at a time of global crisis when we are all in fear for our lives the need for spiritual care and hope is greater than ever. In response to that the Church has presented many new and imaginative ways for people to connect, using Zoom, FaceTime, YouTube, and Skype.
Apart from the addition of technology, we have rediscovered the life of the earliest Church as we read about it in the book of Acts. The first Christians’ life included temple worship, but also focused on the simple things, sharing belongings, food and fellowship with the emphasis being on home life.
The Pandemic will end, and life will return to our streets but for now the message is hope. As the Queen said in her broadcast that evening, “Our streets are not empty - they are filled with love!”  Love is the living out of our concern for one another.  Love is also the name of God - perhaps we are closer to the Church than ever before.

This article first appeared on Network Yarmouth.
Image by Steve Jennings from Pixabay.com

HelenGarrard450Rev Helen Garrard is Lead Chaplain with Norfolk Community Health Care and Associate Priest in the Rockland Benefice (Bramerton Group).

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