We reach the start of a new school year and many of us realise that we must get on with it. Despite the difficulties of covid-19 measures and the dangers of a new outbreak, some things need to carry on anyway. Childrens’ education and social development is too important to delay any longer, and so teachers and support staff are going the extra mile to help young people forward.
It is a step forward to be able to go into the church building again for private prayer, but let’s remember that’s not church. This whole challenging season of closure and disruption has not just knocked us out of our routine, and made us wary of taking anything for granted. It has caused us to consider deeply why we need church.
From Monday 22nd June, an aspect of the normal use of St Luke’s church building has been restored. The doors are open for half the week and everybody is welcome to pray and ponder privately within, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. There is clear guidance to be followed to minimise health risks and enable thorough targeted cleaning. It’s not much, but it is a step in the right direction.
‘When we are up, we are up. When we are down, we are down. When we are only half-way up, we are neither up nor down.’
It’s about the Grand Old Duke of York’s men, but it could be about our mental wellbeing.
For lots of us, life is a series of ups and downs. And presently quite a lot of us are feeling down. It’s not surprising, given our circumstances, but it is concerning. We want to keep going and keep praying. Where can we look for help?
The Prayerbook of the Church of England used to have these words in the Litany: “ From plague, pestilence and famine; from battle and murder, and from sudden death, Good Lord, deliver us.”
The recent revisions of the Prayerbook resulted in the litany being altered to this: “From famine and disaster, from violence, murder and dying unprepared, Good Lord, deliver us.”
Spot the difference? Why the changes, I wonder? Why, in particular, did we remove the mention of plague and pestilence in our set prayers? After all, that is the prayer I want to pray over and over at this present time: From plague and pestilence, Good Lord, deliver us.
Yes, I admit the words sound a little archaic. Plague and pestilence sound like they belong in the Middle Ages. But that is perhaps part of our present problem. Maybe we have been in some sort of privileged denial of the continuing threat of plague and pestilence…….?