Today, 23 March 2021, marks the one-year anniversary of Britain going into the first coronavirus lockdown.
A National Day of Reflection is to take place, including a minute’s silence at 12pm followed by a bell toll.
In the evening, there will be a national doorstep vigil when people are being encouraged to stand at their front door at 8pm and use smartphone torches, candles or conventional torches to signify a “beacon of remembrance”.
Prominent buildings and landmarks will also be lit up across the UK.
The day’s events have been supported and put in place by the Marie Curie charity, “to reflect on our collective loss, support those who’ve been bereaved, and hope for a brighter future”.
Here, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church reflects on a year of ‘thankfulness, generosity, perseverance and loss’, followed by a prayer offered by the Rev Canon Audrey O’Brien Stewart, Canon Missioner in the Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway and leader of the weekly Children’s Chapel broadcasts for the SEC.
Lockdown reflection from the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13: 35
“One year ago, for the first time, I led an online service from the chapel in my garden,” recalls the Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus and Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness. “In the days leading up to this we had struggled with the growing understanding that we were going to have to stop gathering physically for worship. The coronavirus was beginning to rapidly spread and face to face contact was the way it seemed to be spreading.
“Reflecting on this peculiar anniversary I had a number of thoughts.
“Thankfulness – to all involved in keeping our worship and communities going, those who have leant new skills, those who have honed old gifts and those who were generous enough not to complain when things went wrong.
“Generosity – the many people who have given so much time to others, praying for them, shopping for them, giving them space while letting them know you were there. Being the good Samaritans.
“Perseverance – keeping on with the nursing, the teaching, the serving. Keeping on when it was tough and frightening, keeping strong for others.
“Loss – the loss of family and friends, the loss of familiar things, the loss of close contact and the loss of health. We remember those who have died and those who are struggling to face life.
“We proclaim that we are loved by God and that love brings us the hope of eternal life, we are also filled with hope by the love we share, we are people of hope, bringing that hope to the world through our worship, our prayers our care and our determination to love all of God’s creation.
“As this anniversary passes, we live with the hope of new joys to come and for fresh opportunities to be disciples, disciples known by our love.”
Prayer for the anniversary of national lockdown from The Rev Canon Audrey O’Brien Stewart
Holy and lifegiving God
We come before you on this anniversary none of us hoped for with hearts full of gratitude, even as we long for brighter days to come.
This year has tested us in every possible way.
We have looked to you, dear Lord, for guidance, strength, hope, and grace as we have worked to protect those around us.
God, on this day especially, we commend to you all of those who have died, those who mourn, and those still suffering from the effects of this terrible disease.
We lift up to you all who are struggling with the many losses this year has contained.
But God, we are an Easter people – we know that this is not the end of the story.
We have watched all of the signs pointing us towards Resurrection
We thank you for the rainbows, the clapping, the front-line workers, the quick progress on multiple vaccines, the recoveries, the new ways to connect with our congregations and friends, the rediscovery of natural wonders in our own backyard, and of all the other little reminders of your great goodness in our world.
Most of all, beloved Creator, we thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus, who fully understood this mortal experience and through whose death and resurrection we find the path to new life in you.
Send us strength for the days to come, vision to see the light on the horizon, and love to continue sharing with all whom we encounter.
We pray all of this in your Triune Name.