Well, that’s 2020 done, and not before time. I wonder what it will look like to future generations, when our grandchildren will be telling their grandchildren about the year of pandemic, when we all stayed home and wore masks to go to the Co-op? I wonder what historians will make of it? Perhaps it will be seen as a hinge year, when everything changed; or the year that never was, a brief interlude in the otherwise predictable unfolding of the twenty first century?
I wonder if someone in 2121 will open the fire-proof safe in the Monk’s Cell (parish records still not surrendered to the County Record Office, which won’t exist anyway, because there won’t be any counties and everything will be digitised) and take out the Register of Services for 2020, and see – written across a whole line – CHURCH CLOSED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC. MARCH 23rd, THE FEAST OF ST OTTONE FRANGIPANE?*
It does not happen very often, an incumbent writing into the Register an event of national importance. The death of the Sovereign, the coronation of the next, VE Day, are all recorded by my predecessors, but not the Spanish Flu epidemic of a hundred years ago, when the then Vicar, Arthur Greaves, was officiating at six burials a day. I suppose in the aftermath of the Great War a pandemic did not seem as momentous as it does to us?
A reminder, perhaps, that there is nothing new under the sun, that crises come and go, and that we endure.
A blessing on us all in 2021, a prayer for the renewal of our common life and the restoration of prosperity, and a hope that a continuing growth in community spirit will be the enduring legacy of 2020.
Yours in Christ,
*St Ottone Frangipane, which sounds like a pudding, I know, is not a well-known saint, but he saved his city, Ariano Irpino in Campania, from a plague in 1528.