Spring at last!
Hopefully by the end of the month at least we shall begin to feel some warmth in the sunshine, and sense that, as these Lenten days lengthen towards Easter, hope is rising, and the long winter truly over and gone.
Early March last year we entered our first lockdown. It was to last just three weeks, we were told, then things would get better. Little did we know.
And that was it. The last year has baffled us, humbled us, and made us realise how little we actually know.
In so many ways it seemed like the end of an age of progress.
Pope Francis described it as ‘not an era of change, but a change of era.’ The achievement of scientists round the world in the race to produce safe and effective vaccines has been astonishing – but even with all their knowledge, skill, and diligence we have had to accept that the realm of ‘known unknowns’ let alone ‘unknown unknowns’ remains vast.
What will this new era be like?
As the church prepares once again to recall the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, and the glorious resurrection which awaits us at Easter, we are bound to think of all we have seen this past year.
There is the suffering and loss of so many, and the sacrificial love and care shown by doctors, nurses, hospital cleaners and porters, and key workers of all kinds, who have been at the front line fighting the pandemic.
In the coming spring let there be rest, relief, healing, comfort, and fresh hope for all.
It is an awesome responsibility and privilege to come and work alongside you here in the Diocese of Derby at this time.
Locally and globally we face huge challenges, as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. More than ever this must be a time for praying and learning and journeying on together.
In Repton House garden we have been planting fruit trees. It has seemed a good way to begin.
Across Derby and Derbyshire, like fruit trees, may our churches whether newly planted or freshly pruned, produce new buds of spring growth.
Here in the heart of England may we see communities thrive, lives transformed, and the world again made new.
A big ask, perhaps, after such a long winter. But why not? For 'God so loved the world...'
Bishop-designate of Repton.