AN OPEN LETTER from The Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued an open letter on Tuesday 26th January, calling the nation to pause and pray at 6pm each day, wherever we are, from 1st February, remembering the 100,000 plus people in the UK who have died after contracting Covid-19 and all those who know and love them.
The Archbishops write: “100,000 isn’t just an abstract figure. Each number is a person: someone we loved and someone who loved us. We also believe that each of these people was known to God and cherished by God… We write to you then in consolation, but also in encouragement, and ultimately in the hope of Jesus Christ. The God who comes to us in Jesus knew grief and suffering himself. On the cross, Jesus shares the weight of our sadness…. Most of all, we have hope because God raised Jesus from the dead. This is the Christian hope that we will be celebrating at Easter…. We live in the hope that we will share in his resurrection. Death doesn’t have the last word. In God’s kingdom, every tear will be wiped away… Please be assured of our prayers. Please join us.”
The tragic milestone comes amid lockdown restrictions in which large gatherings such as national memorial services are not possible in person. It is expected that the Church of England will hold services of remembrance for those who have died and thanksgiving for all those who have cared for them when it is possible to do so. A prayer for those who mourn is also being shared on social media and will be available to churches across the country. The link is below:
As the vaccinations continue to roll out, and as society is able to return to something more like ‘normality’, St Mary’s will be looking to hold a Memorial Service for our parish. In connection with this, Fr Andrew has been in contact with all our local funeral directors. Nigel Lymn Rose, Company Chairman of Lymn’s Funeral Services, has very generously offered to provide and fix, free of charge, a suitable Memorial Stone in St Mary’s churchyard - a focal point remembering those in our parish who have lost their lives after contracting coronavirus.
We remember before God those who have died and we pray that God's love will surround all who mourn them, now and always:
Gracious God, as we remember before you the thousands who have died, surround us and all who mourn with your strong compassion. Be gentle with us in our grief, protect us from despair, and give us grace to persevere and face the future with hope in Jesus Christ our risen Lord. Amen.
Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight, and give Your angels and saints charge over those who sleep. Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ. Rest your weary ones. Bless your dying ones. Soothe your suffering ones. Pity our afflicted ones. Shield Your joyous ones, and all for Your love's sake. Amen. (Attributed to St. Augustine)