Faith Focus: How we have all become part of a community under COVID

Imogen de la Bere

Imogen de la Bere - Credit: Archant

We’ve all learnt so much in the last three months. We’ve learnt that death can come suddenly and terribly, apparently from nowhere. That the very breath we breathe is dangerous. That we could unwittingly kill those dearest to us.

We have learnt that true wealth is not having a new car in the driveway but a garden large enough to walk around. We have learnt that woods and parks matter more than malls and marts.

We have realised how precarious are the lives of the poor, how armies of people on subsistence wages keep our society working.

We have learnt to appreciate supply chains and bin collections. We never knew how much we loved our hairdressers and our pubs.

But most of all we have learnt that we are part of a community.

On Thursdays we weren’t just gathering on the streets to clap for key workers. We were gathering with our neighbours. We finally realised that we belong to a community.

Neighbours are shopping for neighbours. People are looking out for each other, phoning, texting and emailing each other.

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The level of mutual care has surprised many, in go-getting Hertfordshire.

People of faith are not surprised by this. For centuries we’ve been gathering together in groups that are neither family nor necessarily neighbourhood, communities based on shared beliefs. These communities are all-age and indifferent to wealth; the poor belong as much as the rich, the simple as much as the clever. These communities care for their members but also for the wider world.

In this time of trial, my church has been feeding the homeless and providing a resting place for the dead – meeting the immediate needs of the whole St Albans district, not just our own folk.

It took almost no time for us to decide to meet these different and potentially conflicting needs, but we found a way to do it.

Being an active part of community is core to a life of faith. Jesus said, by your fruits you will be known!

Imogen de la Bere is a New Zealand writer, living in St Albans.