Last week many of us in the UK were on our door steps with candles, or torches, or the light on our phones marking a year of lockdown. I wonder what you were thinking, if you were one of those, like me, pausing for that shared moment?
This week, Holy Week, a week in which we remember the central events of Jesus’ life, begins with his triumphant entry into Jerusalem though cheering crowds, then passes through escalating levels of confrontation with civic and religious authorities to his death, and finally concludes as he miraculously returns from death with a message of love and hope for all humanity.
The hope of a shared future is something to cling to as we reflect, a year on, on all that has happened since I wrote at Easter a year ago, with a picture of the Reconciliation Statue in the ruins of our old Cathedral. That statue represents the coming back together of two people, falling into each other’s arms after a time of enforced separation. It remains a poignant reminder of all we have lost, and all we long for whilst the pandemic continues.
This letter has a different picture though – the great baptistery window in our new Cathedral. It has at its centre a blaze of light, bursting through the natural blues, greens and reds of our experience. It represents hope – hope for all to share. But the journey to hope starts with honesty.
At a time like this, I believe we need to be doing three things. We need to thankful: thankful for all those who have helped us, our communities, and our nations through this last year. Here in the Cathedral, we give thanks for those who have helped us continue to offer worship in innovative new ways online, those who have supported our Cathedral community, and who have helped us steward our resources to safeguard our future. Farther afield, in our communities and cities across the world, we give thanks for those who have cared for us and helped life continue – through our health services, and many other front line workers from shopkeepers to delivery drivers, to all those who have maintained other essential services.
We also need to mourn. To mourn the loss of lives and livelihoods – those we love who are no longer with us, and those others whose jobs or other roles have been lost. We mourn the loss of our dreams for this time, whatever they may have been. There have been real losses in this year, and that has led to a sense of melancholia – a grief that is hard to articulate, but which pervades our shared life. It can help to be honest about that.
Yet we can also commit to hope … practical hope, if I can put it that way. We can commit this week to play our own part in rebuilding our communities, nation and world, drawing on the hope we have in God. As each day goes by, little by little, brick by brick, smile by smile, touch by touch, we look forward to our shared future.
We can unite in honesty, and also in hope. Here in Coventry, and farther afield, we are glad of the promise of the impact of widespread vaccinations, enabling us to mix and mingle once again. We will never quite shake off the impact and far reaching affect of this extraordinary year – but we know that together we are stronger, and together with God we can be honest about all that has happened, but also hopeful about all that is to come.
I look forward to sharing with you in the coming months as we emerge from lockdown. And I invite you to share the joy of this season of hope springing out of death, a journey from loss to new life.
Our Easter services in Coventry Cathedral will include these special services – all of which will be online if you would like to join us, live or later:
9.00am Good Friday Service of readings and reflection on the Cross
5.45am Easter Sunday Early morning service of lighting the Easter Fire, baptism and communion
10.30am Easter Sunday Celebration service of Holy Communion
I wish you a joyful and peaceful Easter.
Very Revd. John Witcombe
Dean of Coventry