August/ September 2020: From Our Minister’s Study
I came home on Friday 3rd of July after shielding in two holiday cottages. The infection rate is low for the moment. I am still keeping a low profile but writing, making calls and doing things on Zoom. The Churches are all looking at the question of reopening and wading through the documents required by Church and Government. As a number of key people have been shielding here and in the other churches we are looking at risk and supplying services. Some local preachers may not be available for a while to say nothing of the congregations. The Vine and Service at Home will continue to be available for a while longer. I should also say that Communion and Singing will not be available for a while upon our return. Temperature checks (non contact sensors used) will be part of the welcome, Track and trace details required and people will be dismissed a row at a time. It will be different but done to keep people safe.
The outbreak in Leicester and the three pubs where people harbouring the virus had joined others show we have a little way to go yet before normal service can be resumed. All the countries who have reopened their economies have had to bring back restrictions. People are being very mature about the future and so must we.
It's fifty years this year since I had heart surgery to correct a hole in the heart. I was given a 50/50 chance of surviving and after three months in hospital came home after having a pacemaker fitted. To still be around 50 years down the track is something that amazes me and I am so grateful for everything that has been done for me. The fact that all this coincides with the virus has been something I have pondered particularly when clapping for the NHS and key workers. The changes to buildings, technology, nursing and the treatments now possible are incredible. The fact that the country has turned upside down to protect the NHS shows its worth and the care we must take for the future. I am also struck by the change in emotion shown by staff. The virus has been devastating but the NHS has saved many patients; from a 102 year old lady to young nurses and teenagers. The staff lined the corridor when they left ICU and they came out of the building when colleagues who had lost the fight were driven past on the day of their funerals. The staff of my childhood would not have done those things but did occasionally smile. One evening, a nurse even gave me a wrapped sausage and took me down to the boiler house where Matron was waiting with her dog for the nightly treat (for the hound) but they were not the ‘heart on the sleeve’ Merchants of today. Today, they are not afraid to show humour and celebration and even the odd tear. The doctors and nurses of 50 years ago were not the same crowd though my consultant could have been at home in the present. Back then institutions didn’t make a habit of having emotions; some would say they were more professional. I have to say a little more humanity made visible would have helped particularly in paediatrics. Looking back I have no doubt they cared and away from the wards they might have been full of humour and empathy. They kept it well hidden. I am very grateful to them but I am glad the NHS is more ‘real’ with people in the modern age.
When you look at the stories in the bible and realise how poor the options were for anyone who fell ill you realise how fortunate we are to live now. The story at the Pool at Bethesda has always struck me as healthcare to avoid. John 5.2-15 has a full waiting room of people seeking a cure. Amongst them is a man who’d been ill thirty eight years. When Jesus asks if he wants to be better the man says he has no one to help him into the pool when the waters stir. The people believe an angel comes to bathe there and first person in when this happens gets cured. The scrum that must have accompanied this disturbance in the water doesn’t bear thinking about. If you think back to the opening of the shops a couple of weeks ago and the jostling throng pushing their way in for bargain clothes. What would they have done if the place held the only cure in the county but only for the first person to the till. Jesus gives the long suffering patient simple instruction to walk and take his mat. His cure brings him into conflict with the Jews because it’s the Sabbath and he is now carrying the mat. They have no joy in his cure they just want the name of the culprit who made this happen.
We should take joy in the healing of others. We should rejoice that vulnerable people have been protected and have not caught the virus. Caution is no bad thing for the future months but pray for a way forward that brings a vaccine and immunity not just in the UK but for all. While you are not spending money perhaps make a donation to health charities oversees. Their resources are very thin on the ground and the virus and other problems are legion. Pray for those struggling to deliver healthcare in such places and be grateful for what we have. Exercise care so the virus doesn’t infect friends and family and challenge business’ who say too quickly ‘It’s no longer a threat’
Good Health and every blessing