After 144 days ...
Rough calculation suggests that it's been 144 days since there was last a service in Holy Trinity church, that Sunday when I should have been on my way to Paphos in Cyprus and instead found myself in church hearing that there would be no wine at communion, no physical greeting at the Peace - sensing all the time that worse was to come. A few days later the word came out that all public worship would cease, and the great surge in online services began.
Today saw the church reopen for worship. Theoretically we could have fitted in 30 people, but for the Thursday evening eucharists this would be unlikely. It was more like a dozen, spaced out among the pews which themselves were strategically barred with red and white tape. I wasn't at all sure of how I felt about it as we waited our turn to go in, to sign the register, to be shown to a seat.
I'm not going to go into much more detail, except to say that we have a very fine priest whose gifts include that of making people feel at ease. And there was a great sense of returning, of the rightness of seeing the candles lit, the Reserved Sacrament returning to its proper place. And on this, the Feast of the Transfiguration which I have for almost all the time I've known of such a feast in the church year associated with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, it was an important moment to recall that hellish action in a place of prayer.
Sometimes taking part in a symbolic action, whether it be returning to church in the midst of a pandemic or going on a peaceful protest, can make us feel at one with the good in the world. I think right now that remembering the good is more important than ever when we are surrounded by what can conveniently be described as evil. Whether it's a GI wiping his foot on the white shadow of a citizen of Hiroshima, vaporised in an instant, or a white policeman putting his knee on the neck of a black man and suffocating him, or a political figure lying desperately to maintain his own credibility, or the evil of whatever it was, carelessness or malice, that set off that massive explosion in Beirut - we all need to make our small gestures, to stand up for truth and light in the face of lies and darkness.
I'll get down off my soapbox now. But part of me is quite glad to know that I still get sufficiently worked up about stuff to inflict it on here ...
Not dead yet!