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Bishop Martin Seeley welcomes the easing of lockdown at this special time of year

In the last week of March three of my colleagues have had birthdays. Which means that they have had a second lockdown birthday, and so have repeated the experience of last year with celebrations confined to home.

So here we are again. We have marked the first anniversary of the most extraordinary and challenging year, and now seem to be on repeat.

We had no idea at the start of the first lockdown that it would be like this, but here we are, entering the second year of the pandemic, and in lockdown again.

Bishop Martin Seeley
Bishop Martin Seeley

Most people I talk to are weary; determined and hopeful, but weary.

I know that weariness in myself too, and which is not just the usual weariness from the stresses and strains of my work and responsibilities, and of working differently, but a weariness from all that we have been forced to miss, to live without.

And a weariness that comes from the suspicion that the roadmap out of lockdown may yet have a few twists and turns that we hadn’t anticipated.

There are, however, signs of hope.

First, we may be on repeat, but that means it’s spring again, and I find myself watching out for the emerging signs.

The blossoms, in particular, are striking and, of course, we have learned to notice them now much more than we used to.

The days are a tiny bit warmer, and this week at least the sky has been a little clearer.

But most of all for me, and for many of us, we are this year embarking on Holy Week and Easter and we can be in church.

Last year, you will remember, the churches were shut.

We celebrated Easter online from our clergy’s homes. My wife and I held a dawn Easter service, the streaming of which suffered from me being a technology novice.

This year we are back in church.

Some have continued to have services in church since before Christmas, but most congregations in Suffolk decided it was more prudent, particularly with the new variants of the virus, to not hold Sunday services in church.

Most of those are now planning to be back for Easter, and that is such a joy and a relief.

Holy Week is the most sacred week of the Christian Year, as we relive the events that led to Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday.

Being able to make that journey back in our churches is to reconnect with the rhythms and resonances of Holy Week and Easter that have permeated the walls and fabric of so many of our churches through the centuries.We will return to mark these immense Christian events in places that have known them well, and were built to remember them.

And returning to our churches to mark these events, events celebrating new life and hope, of goodness and love prevailing and evil overcome, is to reconnect with the echo through the past two thousand years that these events we mark are true, and just as much today as in any generation past.

- Bishop Martin Seeley is the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and is writing a weekly article for readers while church services are disrupted by the pandemic

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