Week 37 letter

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Dear Friends

Week thirty seven. With a bit of tongue in cheek over the years I jokingly refer to carol services as an "occupational hazard." I smile and say after all there is only so many times you can sing "Away in a manger" with gusto! With the Methodist system requiring me to look after multiple churches and therefore conduct multiple Carol Services, I have to admit I tend to get somewhat weary of our beloved carols by Christmas eve.

This year my first carol Service was at Westcote and for the first time in 40 years of leading carol services I didn't sing a single carol! It was a lovely to be together in church in a socially distancing way and listen to the familiar lessons — this was uplifting, but not to sing was a strange experience. I feel we all made the best of the restrictions placed upon us, but I have to admit I really missed singing these familiar seasonal hymns. I wasn't alone: I could hear some folks humming along to the videos played on screen! So I have rebuked myself for previous weariness with Carol Services and look forward to the others I'll be sharing in the coming days.

I think this experience has reminded me that we have probably all realised that much of what we have in the past taken for granted we have this year realised how important they actually are. For example I cannot remember the last time I have shaken hands or hugged a loved one? Or shared in a marriage ceremony, a baptism? When was the last time I visited a member in hospital; not wore a face covering in a supermarket or found my glasses not steaming up when so doing? I'm sure the day will come when these things will resume and when they do, I'll cherish them anew.

I am delighted to say I appear to have opened a can of worms with the cartoon I offered last week as I have been sent a number of seasonal offerings including this one!

The question I have today is this: was it wise to relax the Coronavirus restrictions over the Christmas period. I fear it was not.


Rev Fred Ireland

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