from Father Clive

Dear Friends at/of St. James,

Well here we are at the beginning of 2021 and things appear to be no better with regard to the pandemic……perhaps even worse. For so many the past months since March 2020 have been a terrible period and one can only think of those who have lost loved ones because we can hardly believe what has been happening. Even of those who have left hospital there are months of recovery and being constantly housebound I can fully understand their frustrations and stability. At this present moment it appears even worse than at the beginning of the pandemic with an estimated 1 in 30 people in our areas of London and even 1 in 20 in some of those areas having the infection. This is a true pandemic that the world has not seen since 1918/19. The only way we can perhaps stop its spread is to obey the government regulations however painful that is. Of course, we miss terribly the fact that we could not have our Christmas services but as a friend of mine pointed out it is only one Christmas in a lifetime-hopefully. But it does depend on all of us following the restrictions and I have been ashamed by the actions of many selfish and obviously idiotic people who have been placing the lives of others so much at risk.

There are constant attacks on the government about how this has been handled but this is no different to any other country in Europe and indeed the world. No-one has experienced this before and therefore they have to follow the advice they receive from the experts who themselves must be given time to find solutions. The blame game that is often in the press and on the television is not really helping. The UK is leading the whole of Europe with the vaccine programme and everywhere countries offered a break at Christmas which turned out to be wrong but was a genuine attempt to ease the pressures on their populations and all had to change not just the UK. We need to be more understanding of the problems that those who govern have to face. But yes, the situation at the present and especially in the South East is very worrying.

I have been in isolation since March 2020 and only four people have actually entered my home in the whole of that time. I am in the bubble of one other person and anyone else who comes to the door has a conversation at six feet away from the door which at this time of year means very few chats. I may have at last managed to get onto Zoom but only time will tell but the phone is a godsend and I have a list of about 16 people whom I contact regularly but it is not the same of course. On medical advice I cannot take funerals and that has been particularly painful when it involves people I have known for many years and desperately miss meeting at our Church but that is life as it is at present and I live with it. We all have to do this for the sake of others. Letter writing is one way of communicating and of course the e-mail but yes, it is not the same.

And yet in this tine my faith has remained strong and perhaps even strengthened. I have seen the tremendous efforts and dedication of so many people in many organisations and as individuals who have done such great work that it greatly inspires me to realise that something good has perhaps come out of this tragedy. Of course we think of the NHS workers, the emergency services, medical research companies, bus drivers, postmen and women, delivery drivers, shop workers and others but also the many individuals who have done so much for their neighbours, communities and in some cases through the media for the whole nation that it lifts our spirits and I don’t need to name them because it runs into pages and pages or often unsung heroes. They have become the true celebrities in our country not those constantly appearing on tv programmes entitled ‘…celebrity this or that’.

It is often the people who earn less who inspire us so much because they really have nothing to gain but simply show their love for others in their actions many of which go unreported. I have experienced this for myself with people of all ages and ethnicities offering me help within my local community and beyond. It really has raised my faith and happiness level greatly. I thank them daily in thought and prayer.
At Saint James we have been fortunate to have been led so fantastically by Mother Katie with the help of the church wardens, Sandra and some staff members and indeed by the thoughtfulness of others in the congregation who have kept in touch with those who are elderly, ill or simply having to isolate. I have found it so difficult not being able to enter the homes of others but been touched by their understanding especially from people I have known for over 50 years.

So as we start 2021 let us try to remain positive and look to the future for this will pass.

Yes there will be tragedies and painful moments but we will come through and meet again as the family of St. James and with friends and neighbours and with God’s help our faith will remain strong and even strengthen as we see the response that so any have given to help and support their communities. This is part of living in this world and the dangers have been increased by those who flout the rules.

My prayer for you all is to remain strong, healthy and forward thinking, which believe me is not easy at times, but with prayer, meditation and communication will give us the power to come out the other side. As the popular song goes ‘we’ll meet again’ and the memories of this horrible time will fade.

God Bless you all and wishes for good health in 2021. Stay safe, follow the rules and keep warm.

Father Clive