"Blessed are those who mourn"
It doesn't feel like that at the time, though, does it? We're in that time of the year when, usually, we would be remembering with gratitude everything that those whom we love but see no more have meant to us. We knew it would be different this year, and the bitter sweetness of the season would be harder than usual, but we dared hope that we would still be able to gather to share our griefs, our loves, and the hope we all receive in Christ.
Sadly, as I'm sure you know, that is not to be. On Sunday, I am conducting an act of remembrance with almost nobody else present. Although you can join in on Zoom it feels very strange and very sad, on this particular day, to not be standing amid a crowd before the cross. With nobody else to lay wreathes, I will be offering one on behalf of everybody in the parish; indeed everybody who cannot share their grief at this time, wherever they are.
Although the words will be mostly the same ones that you have heard year in, year out, for fallen and injured service personnel from conflicts past and present, I will also be doing it in remembrance of all the losses - job, lifestyle, security, health, life and loved ones - that are being suffered in this pandemic.
But I will be doing so in hope. For this, too, will pass. The world has been changed by war and is being changed by the virus but wars and pandemics end. The love of God endures. In Jesus, we see it triumph over the power of death. And in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, we glimpse this reality.
This year, the season may be more bitter than sweet, but the beatitude holds true: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
David Fox-Branch, Curate