Roger Barnes

Dear Fellow Members of St Bartholomew’s

The last Warden’s letter I wrote was in November and it started “Well, here we are again – another lockdown, but at least it’s not quite as draconian as the first lockdown”. I think I got that wrong as on the 6th January we entered a 3rd national lockdown, by which time I was sensing that the country was becoming much less enthusiastic about lockdowns. As a church we did as we were advised, and although not compelled to discontinue services from church, we Zoomed the services with no congregation. This decision was reviewed at the weekly Core Team meetings and we watched with some trepidation as the spike in cases and deaths, possibly as a result of the Christmas relaxation, rose ever higher. Then, wonder of wonders, the rates started to fall as the new lockdown took effect and the vaccination programme started doing its job, which meant that we were able to open the church for congregational worship for a maximum of 40 people from 28th February. This has been working well and church attendances are around the 25 to 35 mark. It is a safe environment if we follow the rules (no hugging) and restrict conversation to outside the building.

Boris’s road map seems to suggest that all restrictions could be lifted by 21st June, if we are good, but decisions about social distancing and face masks are pending. Actually I’m not very good at social distancing and I hate wearing a face mask, which I find claustrophobic, and I really want to sing again in church. I have to grit my teeth and bear it as we all do if we want to get out of this dreadful pandemic. Easter is just around the corner and Spring is evident in the gardens and the countryside. Let us pray that the celebration of Easter and the glorious resurrection are symbols that will take us out of the lockdowns and restrictions. For the followers of Christ on Good Friday things could not have looked much worse for them, but there was a glorious light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the same for us; follow the rules, keep the faith, and we could be in the sunlight by July.

We have much to be thankful for, and to pray for. My prayers have been much for the scientists who developed an effective vaccine in an incredibly short space of time, and the thousands of volunteers who, along with the medical staff, have been involved in administering it. Then there is the band of helpers who unlock, lock and clean the church each day so it can be open for private prayer, and Paul and the ministry team who have worked so hard and overcome the technical challenges of broadcasting live services. Lest we get too parochial please don’t forget to pray for an end to all the evil in this world. As Christians we believe that God gave mankind free will, and although God made a world that was good,  it is up to humans whether they choose to do good or bad deeds. Does that mean that the end to evil is in our hands rather than God’s? I will need some help with that question.

God bless