There is more than a semantic irony in that we are all making greater efforts than ever to stay in touch, at a time when social distancing means the one thing we cannot do is touch.
Mediums such as Skype, Zoom and Facetime have all reported unprecedented use and millions have stood outside their homes to applaud our NHS and Key Workers every Thursday evening. Nevertheless, this physical withdrawal from friends and family remains painful and was perhaps most keenly felt by Christians around the world on Sunday as we celebrated Easter in muted fashion. Many were separated from loved ones unable to enjoy traditional roast lamb, hot-cross buns or the annual Easter Egg Hunt with relatives. Not having been able to meet in church buildings to celebrate Easter will mean many feel far from God; a feeling magnified by the current pandemic. We may feel he is somehow distant at the moment, unable or unwilling to reach into the mess of our fragile world and repair the loneliness, pain and anxiety so many are experiencing.
However, Easter is the very evidence that he is neither distant nor powerless in this world. Through the cross of Good Friday and empty tomb of Easter we’re confronted by a God of love who left the throne room of heaven to defeat death and to give us hope. That is what Easter is ultimately about – love which brings hope and life. We have seen countless expressions of love bringing hope and life in recent weeks: the sacrifices made by key workers; stories of neighbours and communities supporting each other; the frontline care of NHS staff; families staying at home; local and national fundraising initiatives of sports teams, schools and individuals. There is something very ‘Christ-like’ – uniquely Easter – about sacrificing one’s own comfort, safety, even life, to serve others.
Dr Hands reminded us recently that the school motto, ‘Manners Maketh Man’ was originally, ‘Manner Maketh Man’, and so it has been my prayer recently that this crisis would see Wykehamists around the world playing their part in serving others, whatever that may look like. Would it be said of us that ‘when things were at their worst, we were at our best’? That is certainly the revelation of Easter. As the disciples watched Jesus suffer on the cross, things looked to be at their worst. Three days later the empty tomb was his crowning glory.
It is perhaps striking that the word ‘corona’ means ‘crown’. A virus that, when viewed under a microscope looks like a crown, is on an all-conquering rampage around the world. It is king of our newsreels and dominating the day to day life of millions. It is taking whole countries hostage, hijacking the economy, and dictating government policy. It is spreading its reign of terror to every corner of the planet. But Easter shows us there is another ‘corona’ – another crown – one that belongs to an even greater power. And at Easter he came to do battle with every destructive power, before or since, to ensure his reign of love and hope and life will win out in the end.
16th October 2020
'A Winter's Night' is a wonderful collection of Christmas classics and choral music from Winchester's Chapel Choir. Released on Signum records on 16 October 2020.
1st June 2020
Two brothers write of their experiences of lockdown together, with one studying for exams, and the other continuing his singing, remotely.
31st May 2020
Quiristers have been singing at Winchester College since 1394. The current situation could not be allowed to disrupt that tradition. Therefore online rehearsals and recording individual voices remotely have become the new ways of keeping the sound of Chapel Choir with us.
6th April 2020
Marking the start of Holy Week, the College Chaplain considers how we keep going when told to socially distance ourselves from ones we love.
27th March 2020
Whilst we are unable to gather for our Passiontide Service, it is still possible to share the music we would have enjoyed, and find a moment of peace.
25th March 2020
For the third in our series of Thoughts for the Day, the Chaplain celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.