As a child growing up, my family always sat around the table to eat our meals. Sunday lunches I remember most as they were somehow extra special. There was extra food, like Yorkshire puddings, sage & onion stuffing or crackling and apple sauce. I also remember that at the end of the meal, myself, my brother, and sister, had to say, “thank you for my dinner, please may I leave the table.” Quite often we couldn’t get away from the table quickly enough; we would have had in mind something important to do like playing in the backyard. We weren’t allowed to go and play with anyone else on a Sunday. Sunday’s could be boring. They were like a kind of lockdown for kids!
As a country, we’ve been in and out of lockdown for the past year and I suspect that we’ve had lots of things in mind that we wanted to do, things that are important like hugging our children or parents, things like that hospital appointment or completion of a particular project that needed you to be elsewhere, not confined to home. It’s been a year of great uncertainty and, for many, possibly held little for which to be thankful. And yet, a year on since we went into Lockdown One, there is good reason to be thankful. We can be thankful for those people who, as children, had a passion for science which then took them into that sphere of work. Thankful that they have developed such expertise that, one year along, we have vaccines which fight a virus that is no respecter of boundaries in that it will infect all people, regardless of race, colour, or creed.
A year on and Christians find themselves again in the season of Lent, a period of 40 days before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of reflection and preparation through fasting from both food and festivities as we remember Jesus Christ’s time in the wilderness and culminates in the Easter celebration of Jesus’ resurrection after his death on the cross. Reflection and preparation help us to reflect on Jesus’ deprivation in the wilderness and tests our self-discipline. In truth, we’ve probably had a year of too much deprivation and testing! Have you managed to stick to all of the government guidelines? Have you felt bereft of certain things? Have you felt like you really don’t have much to be thankful for?
Well, during this Lent, right throughout the Hope Valley, we are inviting you to think positively and reflect on what you can be thankful for. In each village you will find a cross on which you can tie a ribbon as a sign of thankfulness. It will be there right up to Easter, and probably beyond. I suspect that it will be something that grows in beauty as more and more ribbons are placed there. And although the cross is actually a thing of torture and death, our hope is that it will grow into something of beauty for you, something for which to be thankful as it helps us all open our eyes to those nuggets of thankfulness - the wonder of a snowdrop emerging through the snow despite its fragile appearance, the wonder of the life of Jesus.
The COVID-19 virus has been an unwelcome part of our lives, we have had no choice about its presence. We do though have a choice about Jesus and his presence in our lives. You might want to choose to say thank you to him and, if you do, the song you can hear by clicking on the link below, may be helpful. Thank you for taking the time to read this article which I write on behalf of Christians Together in our area. We pray that you will have reason to be thankful, that you may sense those plans you have may come to fruition. God bless you. Rev Julie Letts, Methodist Minister Jesus, thank you for the cross - YouTube