We are not yet out of the woods of the pandemic, with the ongoing anxiety about localised outbreaks or a second wave, writes Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn.
In the midst of this, I want to say how well many have managed to keep going, to keep sane, to keep fit.
It has been more difficult for others, the bereavements, the isolation, the separation from family and friends. Yes it has been a challenge for our national life, and all around the world.
So let me begin with a massive thank you to so many around the diocese for the energy, creativity, and adaptability you are displaying during the ongoing pandemic; ensuring that church life remains open.
That has been demonstrated in the greater care for neighbours, the provision of meals and food parcels, the streaming of services of worship and teaching, and times of prayer over zoom.
There has been a heightening of interest in spiritual matters, people asking questions about God and meaning and a greater number of people praying. The spiritual temperature has been rising, people have been focussing on the things that really matter, families have been seen out together, exercise has become more common. It's been a moment to rethink, reset, reboot, reconsider.
And it goes without saying that during this pandemic we have learnt to appreciate those who are fundamental to maintaining the provision of our national life.
They include those working for the National Health Service and care homes and other supply chains so vital for our wellbeing; including the supply of food, the collection of rubbish, the care of the most vulnerable and teachers in schools.
Lockdown also brought into the limelight an amazing army of workers, committed to the service of others and often at their own risk.
When we think of how other countries have had to cope with far fewer resources and support, though it is a matter of great grief that so many lives have been lost to Covid 19 in the UK, we still have so much to be thankful for.
It is vital we do not forget the important lessons which God has been trying to teach us during this pandemic.
Given the grim financial forecasting, the environmental challenge, and the need for the creation of many new jobs, that is not easy.
But Christians are called to the ongoing task of making Jesus Christ known, calling others to follow Him, as the One who can bring fulness of life, the unique gift of eternal life. And to make that message credible we serve the whole community, seeking justice, peace and love, seeing His Kingdom be established in communities and individual lives.
Our passion for others to hear and receive the Gospel message of salvation found in Christ remains undimmed. We are undeterred. We are resolute.
We continue with embedding Vision 2026 into our DNA as a diocese: promoting healthy churches that have a transformative impact on their wider communities, by making disciples, being witnesses, growing leaders and inspiring young people for the future.
Ronnie Semley, October 2020