Wouldn't it have been great if the end of 2020 had marked the end of our Covid experience? Yet here we are in 2021 and London is a 'major incident' site, hospitals are straining, the nation is locked down, exams are cancelled, and SMWC activities are back on Zoom. But the big difference is that the vaccination programme is making great strides into the community. We can see the other side.
Sometimes when I cross Battersea Bridge on my Vespa I feel the wind so strongly, I have to tightened all my muscles from my handlebars through my core to my footplate and concentrate hard to prevent myself being blown off the road. The bridge is exposed. The air rushing off the river is cold. Pedestrians in the middle of the bridge pull their coats close around them and stride, head down, focused on the shelter of being on the other side.
We are on the bridge between the pre-vaccinated and vaccinated worlds. It feels harder than it did in March and although we can see the other side, the walk towards it feels like we are straining against the wind. All we can do is name it. Feel with awareness the effort this is taking for young and old alike to cross this bridge. Acknowledge this is where we are. Grieve for all that has been lost. Rejoice that we can see the other side. Pray for strength for the journey across the bridge. And cheer one another on.
But there is another bridge to cross. The divides that Covid have exposed in our community between the rich and the poor are shameful. Those with jobs and space to work or study and home and those who have who do not have that luxury are now worlds apart in opportunity, and health outcomes. Who will stand on the bridge between these two worlds? Who will face the wind of received economic wisdom and seek a fairer way ahead?
Further, we all saw the disgusting violent scenes from Washing DC this week. But many of the people involved are normal, able, kind people. How has this happened? Many say because we are not braving the bridge between political and ideological differences. To feel the wind howl in the middle of the bridge of reconciliation as liberals and conservatives, leftwing and rightwing stand on either side of a great chasm, sheltered in their own echo chambers is a lonely undertaking. To be on the bridge takes effort. It means reading posts that are challenging, news from different sources, authors who do not look like me. It means refusing to believe that those others are less than I am. To be on the bridge can be lonely as it involves journeying away from certainty to entertain mystery, where few people feel at ease.
Pagan astronomers came to see the the new born king of the Jews. They journeyed across a cultural bridge. The poorest farm hands, the shepherds, crossed an economic bridge to meet the riches of heaven in the child born to be King. Jesus spent a lifetime on the bridge calling people to see women and men, ruler and ruled, children and the elderly, slaves and free, different races, backgrounds, tribes, religions and ideologies as children of God in need of a saviour rather than enemies of one another. People hated him for not joining one side or the other and in the end he was crucified outside the city of Jerusalem. The position on the bridge cost Jesus His life, but it also brought us our freedom to know ourselves as imperfect, our fellow humans as flawed family and God as the forgiving force of love that is stronger than death.
The position on the bridge is demanding and dangerous. We find ourselves on at least one bridge right now. But we are not alone. We have our fellows in this community and we have Jesus who lived, died and rose again and will never leave us nor forsake us.
We have a chance in 2021 to spend our time on the bridge preparing for a new future that we can choose to make fairer, more sustainable for people and planet, less aggressive and less insular. But it is cold there. It takes effort. It can be dangerous. But I have a strong feeling, it is where we will find Jesus.