There was something special about yesterday evening’s applause for all NHS and care workers. Hereabouts the volume was louder, and participation wider. No accident, I think. We were applauding these splendid, patriotic, public servants on St George’s Day, and the legends of our patron Saint added to the occasion. As one commentator put it, there’s a terrifying dragon rampaging through the land, called Coronavirus….
It’s less than two months since the virus came to our shores, but how life has changed in that short time! Our broadcast media, especially the BBC, have been superb in providing information, and - in the absence of parliament for some weeks – holding government to account. What would we know about the sharp end of Covid-19 without the superb reporting of the BBC’s Hugh Pym and Fergus Walsh? Applause for them too wouldn’t seem out of place.
And speaking of gratitude, today the Church remembers St Mellitus, archbishop of Canterbury from 619 to 624. Sent here by Pope Gregory the Great, Mellitus was part of that great Pope’s effort to share the gospel with the English. And Gregory knew a thing or two about how best to evangelise. Writing to Mellitus in 601, he urged that local places of pagan worship shouldn’t be destroyed, but transformed into places of Christian worship, in the hope that ‘the people may abandon their error, and flocking more readily to their temples as usual, may come to know and adore the true God.’ Wise words.