Talking Point – November 2020

What a Year
THIS IS the time of the Church’s year when we remember, when we look back through what we have done and what has gone on around us, and what a year! 2020, the numbers suggest perfection, from perfect vision. We started the year with high hopes.

After a wet winter, things turned nasty – we had more rain which brought floods and gales. And then we had heard of a new virus affecting thousands of people in China – for which there was no cure. We prayed it would not come here but, within three months, it was marching across the world and had arrived. Within days, we were locked down, confined to our homes and allowed out only for exercise and essential shopping: restrictions which were eased gradually after ten weeks.

Now, as I write, the infection is spreading again, and we are experiencing local restrictions which are getting ever more severe. Frightening for older people and mainly inconvenient for younger ones. Will we have to part from our families again?

But many good things have come out of the situation. Neighbours have rallied to bring food to the vulnerable, people have volunteered to run food banks and to collect food, and some of us have been entertained in the street. We have learned to appreciate the NHS, the sacrifices of Medical Staff and the dedication of cleaners, those who have delivered our online shopping and medicines, and have kept essential food shops open. We have learned to garden and appreciate Nature. And you may be able to think of other things. We have come to realise our dependence on each other and to say ‘Surely things must change when this is all over.’

What a boon visual technology has been. I had heard of Skype though not of Zoom, but rapidly learnt to use them, and even Vimeo when attending this year’s Stroke Club Conference. Then taking part with Caversham Park Church’s team producing services, along with other Caversham Churches.

I felt as though I was on permanent retreat, feeling, as I said to myself, that I was like Mrs. Job. In the book attributed to Job in the Old Testament, he had the misfortune to lose all of his six children to a plague. His friends came to comfort him, and advised him to curse God, who was supposed to have caused his misfortunes, and then die. This is where we get the expression ‘Job’s Comforters’ from. Even his wife backed them up.

Job refused their advice. He prayed, he spoke to God, and waited for an answer. In the aftermath of a storm, he had his revelation ‘I know that my Redeemer lives… and that at the last, I shall see him face to face.’ This book is a real lesson in patience.

Remembrance Day is going to be very different this year, with leaflets in the post asking us to make a donation and to light a candle in our homes, a good thing also to do in remembrance of loved ones who have died. We may have to postpone All Saints ceremonies, too.

Through the rest of the year, although we may have to continue to live with patience until a vaccine for Covid is found, let us live in hope, knowing that our Redeemer, Jesus, lives, loves us and strengthens us.

Margaret Dimmick is an Anglican Minister at Caversham Park Church