This People-Centred Pandemic

Covid memorial at Norwich Cathedral in January 2021, when the number of deaths across Norfolk from t
Credit: Bill Smith – Norwich Cathedral

This morning’s Eastern Daily Press says:

‘This poignant photograph shows the terrible toll of Covid in Norfolk, as the number of deaths in the county has passed 1,000.

The memorial in Norwich Cathedral has been growing by the day, with a tiny cross added for each person who has lost their life due to the pandemic.’

Musing on: ‘Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings…’ (Exodus 25:9)

The Israelites led by Moses had left Egypt. Wandering around the desert they need a tabernacle, a mobile worship-centre. Eventually this was replaced by a permanent temple… Jesus comes and Christians started building churches… magnificent cathedrals and simple meeting halls…

I’ve always been taught that ‘the church is the people not the building’.

When I was teaching I lived by a similar principle: the school is the people, not the building. Budgets, resources, targets, learning outcomes, curriculum are important, but the means to an end.

With home-schooling the focus is still the same: the learning, wellbeing and development of people – primarily children, but also teachers, support staff and parents.

It’s true for hospitals too. Although hospitals are referred to by the name of the building or the geographical location, throughout the pandemic the focus has been on people – patients, doctors, nurses and ancillary staff.

We rightly focus on physical healing, but there’s also been emphasis on emotional, psychological and family care and well-being. People are central.

Politicians, church leaders, teachers, health-care professionals alike get caught up with buildings, programmes, material resources, finances, systems…

Bishop Graham of Norwich said: ‘Each tiny cross representing not only an individual’s life taken by Covid-19, but the ongoing impact and grief that their passing has had on their loved ones and the medical professionals who cared for them.’

My hope and prayer is that, as a result of Covid-19, our churches, schools and hospitals will develop as people-centred communities who live, learn and grow together.

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