As part of the National Day of Reflection, a simple service was held, attended by the Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk Lady Dannatt, the Dean, and members of the Bishop’s House staff, shortly before the special vigil of lamentation and hope Evensong held at Norwich Cathedral.
Lady Dannatt placed a cast-iron plaque in the birch grove that had the following words inscribed upon it:
Grove of Himalayan Birch planted as a sign of hope in 2020 amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Bishop Graham said: “As we reflect as a nation today on the past year, let us support one another in our losses and sorrows with love, and as we approach Easter may we look to the new hope of the Resurrection.”
The birch trees were planted last January by pupils from the Eco Council of St Michael’s VA Junior School in Bowthorpe.
Below are the words from the liturgy that was used for the service.
Marking the anniversary of the first lockdown with the Dedication of a Grove of Himalayan Birch
Praise God who made heaven and earth,
All who keeps his promise for ever.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,
All who is worthy of all thanksgiving and praise.
The Lord be with you
All And also with you
You hold all our times in your hands, our past, our present, our future. Be close to us now as we remember all the difficulties and disappointments of the past year. Be especially close to all of us who are thinking of someone we loved and knew, but see no longer, whether family, friend, colleague or neighbour. Help us to trust that they are at peace with you, and comfort us with your presence. Amen.
A reading from the book of Revelation Chapter 22
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.
Lord God, the maker and redeemer of all,
as we come before you in thanksgiving for the gift of health and life, we grieve for the thousands who have died:
comfort us with your presence,
sustain us with the hope of your kingdom,
and give us grace to live our lives well;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Dedicate now we pray O Lord, this Grove of Himalayan Birch planted as a sign of hope in 2020 amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic, in the name of the Father + and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit + Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed by thy name.
Thy kingdom come; thy will be done
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.
For ever and ever. Amen.
The almighty and merciful Lord,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you and keep you. Amen
You may also be interested to read or listen to Bishop Graham’s reflection on the past year, broadcast on BBC Radio Norfolk here