Then there is the shopping which often was made difficult for two reasons – one the fear of being with too many people and secondly that the shops had been ordered to be closed. This has been disastrous for shop keepers and businesspeople who had hoped for the usual spending spree for the best time of the year to make their profit only to have it taken away from them. So many people have suffered in different ways through the Lockdown and the rules and restrictions and because of the loss of work the thought of Christmas coming has seemed to make the sadness caused by the Pandemic even sadder. However, it isn’t helpful to speak negatively; instead, we need to look in hope to a better future. Recently the vaccines have in a short time become available and although it will take some time to reach everyone it is a blessing which will save many lives. We must be aware of what it has cost in people power for us to be so near to being saved. The scientists who have worked day and night and sometimes with young students who have volunteered to give their time to help saving people. I agree that it is difficult to hold on to hopefulness for as I write there are floods in Hereford which I believe in the past two weeks will have felt safe from the virus as they were in tier no.1, only to have to cope with their homes at risk.
Our thoughts and prayers must continue to be with the suffering and grieving people, but I move on now to the closed churches and chapels. Was COVID-19 to be allowed to destroy our worshipping of God at the special time that is Christmas? Not at all. I am often reminded of Gerald Reeve, one of the Long Itchington Deacons, when stuck with a problem would say, ‘There’s always another way.’
I have seen more Nativity plays this Christmas than before and they’ve all been doing what God asked, to preach to all nations. One was in a local church with keen adults and a few children. Then a school Nativity of 250 children divided into classes sang in turn new songs specially written for the children to learn about the coming of Christ into the world. And close by, a family used the Bible to prepare their own Nativity to be acted for anyone who would be able to come to it. Moving from area to area, we would find many more plays about the Christmas story on ZOOM and YouTube and if we look around, we could see outdoor events to Celebrate Jesus, the Light of the world. We might see groups of people delivering boxes of food to others in need, others who give their time to spend with lonely people. Also, on our televisions we see people who walk beyond their expected ability, very elderly from 101 years to small children and those with special needs determined to raise large amounts of money often for hospitals.
PRAYERSAlmighty God, we began with the words ‘God, you are with us.’ Father we praise and thank you for always being close to us as we come with troubled minds and hearts. We are aware of the needs of people and of the fears of many. We try to help them to accept that you are with us and yet they struggle to understand that you are the one and only living God. Today Father we give thanks for all the children, their parents and teachers who show through Nativity plays that Jesus is the king of the world and that by acting and singing about Him they grow up with a gift of faith that will help them through their lives.
Now Lord we bring the needs of people to you. Through this time, we have all seen good and bad happening to people because of the virus. We pray today for women and children who are being abused by the adults who should be their carers and sometimes the men are the ones to be hurt. Lord, these people who cannot contain their anger are the ones that need to be taken away from those who are suffering because of them, and so our prayer is that they will be found and prevented to act in such a way. Our other prayers are for the scientists who have put themselves at risk while working all hours to help save others. We pray for more vaccine to be made to prevent people from getting seriously ill or dying before their time. Lord God, we pray in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen