by The Revd Mark Smith, Vicar of Rawdon

I WAS mildly amused to see a Church poster proclaiming He is risen posted next to another poster about the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh.

But of course the accidental message is true. The Easter story of the resurrection is important for Christians because we believe, that though we die, we will be raised with the one who said I am the resurrection and the life.

The passing of Prince Philip caught a mood of national sadness. Not so many weeks ago I was tolling our Church bell in memory of the over 150,000 thousand Covid Deaths across the UK – and as I tolled the Bell for the the Duke 99 times for each of the years of his life, I could not but also think of the many people who have died over the last year - especially in my mind was a man whose last hours I shared as he died of Covid just weeks ago - and several close friend and my own mother who died not of Covid, but whose funerals were curtailed due to Covid lockdowns.

There is a lot grief around that has not had to the chance to be expressed. And who among us was not moved at the site of the Queen – sitting alone, dressed in black, her head lowered and alone, mourning the loss of her companion and husband since 1947.

In addition to my parish Church in Rawdon, I am also a minister to the Deaf community who use sign language. Many were upset that the blanket TV coverage of his death and the Funeral service did not have a sign language interpreter.

I know many of them were also mourning their own friends and sadly many of them know what it is to attend a funeral of their own close family and have no access to what is said.

But a highly skilled Deaf Christian friend came to the rescue and, without pay, did what the BBC did not.

In 24 hours he had produced a beautifully signed video of the funeral which we shared with the Deaf Community. It was so appreciated.

We need opportunities to express grief - and also to find hope and strength for the future