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Letter to parishioners, 16 April 2021

What can we learn from this week, where our thoughts have been divided between the country’s significant move along the government’s timeline of emergence from the coronavirus restrictions and the nation’s mourning following the death of HRH the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh? Read on…

Friday, 16 April 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

Our thoughts this week have been divided between the country’s significant move along the government’s timeline of emergence from the coronavirus restrictions and the nation’s mourning following the death of HRH the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. On one level these two issues seem quite separate. What does the irresponsible behaviour of those who are acting as though the dangers of the Covid virus is over have to do with the life of a man who lived almost one hundred years? Well, I believe there is a lot for all of us to learn from the Duke of Edinburgh’s life, and especially if we are among those who are tempted to flout the rules and thereby endanger the health and welfare of others.

Over the last week, we have all read, heard or seen many documentary accounts of the Prince Philip’s long life. Every one of those biographical accounts speak of the same qualities: commitment, service, enthusiasm, innovation, loyalty and faith. Do you not hope and pray that just one or two of those words might be used to remember you when your earthly life ends? Well, when it comes to the life of His Royal Highness, all of those words are not just obsequious platitudes but genuine recollections of many, many years of public life.

We know that the Duke’s early aspirations were to high office in the Royal Navy. Because of the untimely death of King George VI, that was not to be. Instead he had to find a new way of serving his country, and that was as a loving and committed consort to Her Majesty the Queen. However, that was not to be the end of the story. Prince Philip went on to serve all of the armed forces in ceremonial and morale-boosting roles, he was also to develop a profound expertise in the area of conservation. How inspiring it was to hear such an authority as Sir David Attenborough give strong testimony to the Duke’s knowledge, concern and active involvement in the conservation of God’s wonderful creation throughout the world.

Then comes another legacy, the legacy of hope that the Prince gave to the younger generations of this country. The Duke of Edinburgh Scheme has touched the lives of many. It has given millions of young people an opportunity to experience the thrill of decision making, risk taking and character building activities, whilst also offering service to the communities in which they live.

This week there has also been testimony to the Prince’s profound Christian faith. It has been made clear that he was always in search of a greater understanding in respect to matters of faith, and yet that questioning mind never led him to turn his back on the teachings and doctrines of the Church. Yet another inspirational facet to this man’s character and life.

And then comes the loosening of the national lockdown! What better model can we have of self-sacrifice and service than the life that has been remembered throughout the last week? Perhaps, as we look for those self-serving ‘convenient loopholes’ that suit our own whims and fancies when it comes to wending our way through the restrictions intended to protect us, we would do well to reflect on our call to commitment, service, enthusiasm, innovation, loyalty and faith!

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen