There’s been a huge increase, apparently, in the numbers of people attending church services during the Covid-19 crisis. All, of course, virtually, via the internet. And interestingly, it’s younger people who are searching these services out. The options available are almost endless. Formal celebrations of the Mass streamed from Catholic cathedrals; Zoom-based informal prayer meetings; Church of England services from a kitchen or living room. So many options, in fact, that I had almost forgotten the value of radio broadcast services. Until, that is, a daughter phoned to say that there was a Radio 4 service on Sunday from Salisbury, where we used to live.
Tuning in at 8.10, we learnt that this was a special service to mark the 800th anniversary of the cathedral’s foundation. Salisbury had been hoping that this anniversary would enable the city to bounce back from the lingering after-effects of the Russian Novichok attack in 2018. No such luck, sad to say: planned cathedral and city-wide events had to be cancelled. But the 800-year-old cathedral still stands, is still a place of beauty and holiness dedicated to the worship of God, pointing to the heavens. The cathedral has come through; the city will come through too. And here in Fairwarp, the re-pointing of the church building will protect it for many years to come. In these times, in all times, we need our sacred places to point us to eternity.