As I write this article at the end of January, we are still in strange times with Covid-19. The infections have only just peaked and are starting to decline slowly which is hopeful news. However, hospital admissions and the deaths are still very much on the increase, causing great anxiety and worry. We know that we are facing a difficult two weeks. We see on TV hospitals stretched to capacity and NHS workers struggling to deal with the intense situation of their work and their inability to be able to make all the patients well. We are truly grateful for a National Health Service and in awe of the skill and the professionalism of the staff. 

Yet in the face of such adversity stands the hope of the vaccine and it’s rollout. Already most of the highest two priority groups have been vaccinated and we are starting on lower priority groups. It has been amazing to see the same NHS act so decisively and so quickly. People who have been vaccinated feel protected and safer. Families with elderly relatives are no longer fearing their loved ones becoming ill and possibly ending up in a hospital or worse dead. These two observations are linked by the virus but work independently and have to be managed in different ways.

Inevitably the question that people ask me is when will we be back to normal and when will the church services start? The easy answer is, I really do not know, but that is often not enough. I have been saying March in time for Easter at the beginning of April. By the time you read this, we will know much more. But this is the thin end of a large wedge, quickly followed by questions about important life events like weddings, significant anniversaries and birthdays. It feels like everything is on pause and we need to press the play button. Yet, I think that we have become so concerned by these restrictions that people will be anxious about planning or holding such events. It will take much longer than we hoped for or wanted.

It is said that one of the great certainties of life is change, the only choice you really have is how well you adapt to that change. There has been so much change that there is no normal and when the rate of change really slows down, we will all find ourselves in a new place. The real challenge is how we make the most of life and the people we love. As a Christian, we believe in God who helps and enables us through these difficult parts of our life into a new place. Despite the many changes, we can rely on God to help and support us. We need not be afraid of change but instead, look for new opportunities and new beginnings. We can not often control endings but we usually have a choice to embrace a new start.

Whatever the changes and worries that face us now we can be confident to find the strength to start again and move forward.

Rev. Martin Wood. The Rectory, Church Lane, Cheriton Bishop EX6 6HY 01647 24119 (Tuesday to Sunday) revwood163@gmail.com