Yesterday both Rev Jane and Rev Shirley had the privilege of each baptising babies, due to Covid-19 it has been a long time since they have been able to do this. The services were much smaller than what we would be used to (maximum of 6) however that does not make the baptisms less important, in fact I would argue that perhaps they are more special as these parents present their children to be welcomed in to God’s kingdom, despite the inability to celebrate with the usual party and fanfare many are accustomed to.
This got me thinking about babies and all the emotions and events that are intwined with new life. There have been many babies born since the Covid-19 pandemic began, but like most things the experience for the families has been quite different to what they would have expected.
Milestones during pregnancy such as scans, midwife appointments, ante-natal classes have been different, sometimes with only the expectant mother being present at the appointments. Culturally baby showers have become a bit of a thing here in the UK, so many have missed out on this chance to celebrate the pregnancy in eager anticipation, along with friends and family. Then there is the birth, guidance has been different in many hospitals, but mostly Mothers are labouring alone (without their birth partner) then birth partners are called in shortly before baby makes an appearance. Once Mother and baby are home, restrictions would mean very few (if any) visitors, and those that do visit would probably be social distancing, rather than the flurry of hugs that we would expect.
As we look for ways to keep everyone safe, things like parent and toddler groups, children’s centres and baby weighing sessions all remain closed, in fact the opening of our own under 5’s drop in session for the parish is currently on hold. For those of you who have had children, or have supported someone close during those early days, you will know what a lifeline these things can be, emotionally and physically for new families, so the closures although the right thing to do, will have social, physical and mental implications on these families.
The gift of new life is so precious, and although the situation we find ourselves in at present is strange, Gods word in the Bible brings us hope.
The Bible has accounts of pregnancy, loss, bereavement, births, adoption and so many other family situations, so over the next few days we will look at some of these stories and see how we can learn from them, how they can still be relevant and what that might mean to us today.
Heavenly Father we thank you for the gift of new life, the joy of baptism and all that it means. We lift to you those families who have had different experiences to what they expected. You know the needs of each of those families Lord, and we ask that you meet them in this space. May your love nurture and surround them as they experience the mixture of feelings, that may be magnified and more difficult during these times. Stretch out your hand of love and care, hold and protect them and walk beside them for all their days.
In Jesus name we pray