At the time of writing we are in the midst of a Coronavirus outbreak with guidelines and instructions to regularly wash our hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds (plenty of time to say the Lord’s prayer), to cough into a tissue or the crook of our arm, to avoid touching our face with unwashed hands, work or stay at home and avoid social venues like pubs and restaurants, if we have an increased temperature and/or a new dry persistent cough we need to self isolate for 7 days, or 14 days if we live with others, then if the symptoms get worse to ring the NHS 111 line. The elderly and those with health conditions are most at risk of serious illness.
These are new and strange times for all of us. Flights are grounded, travel is cancelled, schools are closing and some food supplies are difficult to obtain. We haven’t yet managed to buy hand sanitisers, tissues, paracetamol or yeast for bread making! Even the Church has suspended all services. These times can introduce anxiety, acts of kindness and generosity from others and panic buying for those who are worried about having no supplies. How are you feeling then and how are you coping?
One of the benefits of perhaps spending more time at home is that you can take time to appreciate your home and its environment. Sitting in our back room and looking out into our garden I was surprised and overwhelmed to see a female Kestrel or perhaps it was a female Merlin, perched on our fence. It was a magnificent sight. If I had been out at work or in my study, I would never have seen this bird so close.
I am reminded of the wonder of God’s creation and the way it amazes us and refreshes us and brings us a new perspective. Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:25-33 shine out at us.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith. Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Jesus’ journey in life isn’t one that in human terms is always happy and joyful. He faces many painful situations and his journey to execution on the cross is one of suffering and humiliation, yet he tells us ‘Do not worry’. There is a sense of happiness and joy in his words. He encourages us to live in the present (not the past or the future) and to see the blessings and gifts from God around us, to seek the kingdom of God not as a secondary task, but as a primary task, a priority.
The writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 4:14-16) put’s it this way.
‘Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need’
We have very little control over what is happening in our world, our country, our town or village at this time. Yet we can make the decision to seek God’s kingdom through prayer, enabled for us by Jesus Christ. The person of God who lives with us, who knows us, delights in us and loves us and only asks that we return that love. We do not deserve heavenly grace, yet we can be blessed by it and see God’s kingdom around us every day and gives thanks to God for it. It is his grace that will hold us in the moment of joy and of suffering and it his grace that gifts us with sharing in a happiness and peace beyond all understanding
You might like to pray the disciples’ prayer:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Lord, you are the author of creation and the Lord of every person. Help us to put you first and know your will and your strength at this time. May we know peace in turmoil and challenge. Amen.