A Year On in Lockdown Ministry

Covid Anniversary Blog

A year of ministry in lockdown brings with it a conflicting mixture of befuddlement, anger and hope.

The anger comes from standing alongside many families in their bereavement with so few people allowed in our buildings; thirty in Church, and ten or twenty at Crematoria. No hymn singing allowed even in a brief respite near Christmas, when we managed about 4 Sunday services in Church rather than on zoom, including two muted Holy Communion services, giving only bread.

When I stop and think that bereavement pain has been repeated well over 120,000 times since this virus took hold I am angry. Standing outside the places of committal many large families wept with frustration and on a number of occasions hugged one another out of desperation when I stood by masked and sensibly isolating. Although it was impossible to save everyone, I wonder if the interface between science and politics might have been better handled?

Although I have deeply missed singing with others there have been a few things that have lifted me. Over Christmas we decided to do socially distanced outdoor carolling by some of the houses of our most vulnerable members. We were so inspired to see many front doors opening with many local people joining in. It was truly heart-warming and a real tonic in the middle of Winter.

Not being able to have hymns or sing,  families have been given the opportunity to pick songs they like or their deceased relative’s favourites. Many people who died were my age or younger so I have had many memories relit by listening to old favourites including Whitney Houston, Elvis, Tom Jones, the Dubliners, the Beatles and Jerry and the Pacemakers.

But what has struck me most is that people have been really sensitive to their own and other people’s feelings and the music has touched us all deeply. Things like ‘Have I told you Lately that I love you’ and ‘Goodbye is the Saddest word’ have revealed the pain and wishes of people who are universally grateful that we are focussed on their needs and feelings and not imposing hymns and songs they don’t know.

My hope is that we have got nearer to the beating heart of our communities in new and meaningful ways. As well as funerals and other contacts made during lockdown we have been privileged to share food parcels, Christmas Hampers, and half term meals for families through our work with One Knowsley and Knowsley Kitchen. Realising the poverty and need in our areas brings again a mixture of anger and hope. We easily become isolated from other people’s pain when we just try to manage our own; we all need to look outwards for change and make it happen.

Rev John S Davis Assistant Priest, St. Gabriel’s Church, Huyton, Deanery Missioner and an ISR Visiting Fellow.

This piece is written in response to a post originally published in the Covid-19 blog on 30th April 2020 by John which can be found here.

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