For the Healing of the Nations

St. Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

I am writing this letter on the day our Prime Minister announced an easing in the Covid 19 lockdown situation in England.

The relaxation (which will come into effect from 4th July) includes, amongst other things, a reduction in social distancing from two metres to one, an ability to stay overnight in hotels, B&Bs and campsites and the luxury of getting a haircut!

Judging by the very reserved way in which people have taken advantage of more relaxed shopping regulations over the last two weeks, it may be that, apart perhaps from hairdressers and barbers, the ‘uptake’ of the new freedoms may be a trickle rather than a flood.

And the same may be true, of course, of the rate at which folk return to worship in church as that restriction, too, is lifted – but with a complicated set of instructions as to how it might be managed.

We have yet to work out details of what the return to worship in church might look like but, in the early days at least, it is unlikely to simply ‘pick up’ from where we left things in March.

In all that happens in the days that lie ahead I hope our prayer (and action) will continue to be focused on a vision of a church, a community and a society shaped on the values which Christ taught us.

And so I want to share with you the words of a hymn we have sung occasionally at St. Michael’s and which, once singing is again permitted, we may well find ourselves using more often and with renewed understanding.

For the healing of the nations, Lord, we pray with one accord,
for a just and equal sharing of the things that earth affords.
To a life of love in action help us rise and pledge our word.

Lead us forward into freedom, from despair the world release,
that, redeemed from war and hatred, all may come and go in peace.
Show us how through care and goodness, fear will die and hope increase.

All that kills abundant living, let it from the earth be banned:
pride of status, race or schooling, dogmas that obscure your plan.
In our common quest for justice may we hallow life’s brief span.

You, Creator-God, have written your great name on humankind;
for our growing in your likeness bring the life of Christ to mind;
that by our response and service earth its destiny may find.

-Fred Kaan (1929-2009)

Amongst all the anxiety and mental anguish that the Coronavirus pandemic has brought to many – and in respect for those thousands of people whose lives have been lost as a result of its virulent nature – surely we all have a duty to reassess our outlook on life.

When all the current issues of climate change and racial justice are added to our situation then the healing of the nations, freedom and abundant living need to be priorities for prayer and action in all that lies ahead.

With every blessing,

Paul

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