6 January 2021
England has entered its third lockdown in nine months. The medical, emotional, mental and economic effects of Covid-19 become ever more severe and the cold weather matches the sombre national mood. Even given the good news about the development and implementation of vaccine programmes, any kind of normality seems a distant prospect.
In the light of all this it is a great blessing that our cathedrals and churches are being allowed to stay open both for public worship and private prayer over the coming weeks. While I strongly encourage everyone to adhere to government advice about staying at home except where necessary, I am also thankful that the regulations recognise the importance of places of worship in giving people the necessary space - literal and figurative - to begin to make sense of a situation whose impact has been so brutal for so many. Be assured that the safety and well-being of all who come into Wakefield Cathedral will continue to be our absolute priority.
I have been reflecting in these past few days on a phrase that we often hear in scripture but of which, perhaps, we take too little account: Fear not. It is what Gabriel says to Mary when he brings his momentous news to her in Nazareth; it is the angelic greeting to the shepherds when they become the first to hear the good news of the birth of Jesus; it is what Jesus himself says to his disciples when they see him walking on the water towards them and think he is a ghost. Fear not. This is not an encouragement to recklessness in the face of a public health crisis, but an assurance of God’s presence in our midst and purpose for our lives. As we continue to celebrate the coming of God among us let us be thankful for that presence and purpose; and may God’s blessings be on us all in the coming weeks and months.