Change and continuity

(Updated Monday 23 March 2020, 22.15)

Following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation earlier this evening, I am confirming that Wakefield Cathedral will be closed until further notice. All public worship, including weddings and baptisms, will cease. We await further clarification about funerals, but it is likely that these will be direct to local crematoria or cemeteries. All our staff are either on furlough or working from home.

Many centuries ago, when the Babylonians were besieging Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah bought from his cousin a plot of land at Anathoth, just a few miles from the city. Jeremiah saw this opportunity as a sign that God had not abandoned his people, nor left them to their own devices. Jeremiah’s act of faith in purchasing land that would soon be in the hands of outsiders was his response to God’s own faithfulness to his people, an expression of his confidence that ‘houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land’. You can read this inspiring story in Jeremiah chapter 32.

In the coming weeks and months we need robustly to assert a similar confidence in God, not through buying plots of land but through a life of disciplined prayer and service to others (even if much of that service must now be offered at a distance by telephone conversation or email, Facebook or WhatsApp). In this way we will be able to ensure that our hearts will be truly ready when the time comes, as it surely will, for us once again to journey with gladness to the House of the Lord in the centre of our great city, and for our feet to ‘stand in the gates’ of our beloved cathedral. Until that time, may the Lord be continually on our lips and in our hearts and may we be worthy ambassadors of the Christ who has called us and who is faithful.

Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.

With prayers and best wishes until we meet again,

Dean Simon

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