We are now in week 6 of the lockdown in the UK as the whole country confronts the virus Covid-19. At the time of writing our Prime Minister, himself a recovered victim of the virus, has announced that we have passed the peak of the virus, meaning that less people are becoming infected and less people are dying each day, although our care homes have been critically affected and many illnesses and deaths have occurred in them. This week we held a minute’s silence for those NHS and care staff who have tragically lost their lives from Coronavirus whilst helping those who are sick. Consequently our lockdown will continue until the rate of infection from one person with the virus is reduced to below one, although there are questions about how and when we might come out of this situation.
How are you managing and what are your priorities? Have they changed during the virus pandemic?
It is clear that our food supplies and our food sources have changed. Food and provisions are not so easily available as they were before. Supermarkets are still struggling to cope with the demand for food deliveries, even after employing more people. They are prioritising, rightly so, those in most need. In addition, supermarkets are rationing the amount of food and provisions we can purchase in one shopping outing or delivery. People’s habits of shopping every couple of days have now changed to every week, to reduce the exposure to other people and those who have had a main shopping every month are now shopping more frequently because of the rationing on the number of items. Some food of course is still in very short supply.
Perhaps obtaining food and provisions is one of your changed priorities. Pubs and catering companies are now offering to sell food themselves, sometimes it is those provisions that are in short supply, sometimes it is cooked meals or vegetable and fruit boxes; these are other sources for food and provisions that are emerging as volunteer groups deliver much needed food to those in isolation. Financial hardship is also hitting some people and the demand for supplies from Food Banks, mainly run by Churches and other faith groups, has increased and many are looking at non traditional ways of obtaining provisions, including Amazon, who have vastly increased their delivery organisation. Even our habits at home have changed to more home cooking and baking and growing our own food and of course we cannot go out to restaurants and pubs.
Have your priorities changed and is there some anxiety around these changes? The virus has brought upon us changes in our lifestyles that are beyond our control and Jesus reminds us to keep the priorities of our lives in proportion and with a sense of perspective in Matthew 6:19-24.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth”
Jesus reminds us that it is the kingdom of heaven and its values that are important. We put God first and everything flows from our belief and faith in God the Father, through Jesus Christ his son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Hear the words of that famous hymn ‘Be thou my vision’ sung by Audrey Assad.
Putting God first in our lives, our prayer and our praise, brings about an outpouring of thankfulness to him. During this time, many of us will be experiencing the loss of old ways of life, maybe financial loss, maybe the loss of seeing loved ones face to face, or hug to hug, the loss of community groups, the loss of outings and even holidays. This may be short term of course, but it feels as though there will be a ‘new normal’ as the media are describing our lives in the future. But for those who put God first in our lives and in our relationships, there is a constant, a reassurance, a thankfulness for what we have and a thankfulness for the ‘heavenly’ treasures we enjoy on earth, like God’s provision for us, the chance to walk out each day, the availability of technology like the TV, the telephone or the video conference to keep us in contact and thankfulness for the work still available for us to carry out and do. Our treasures in heaven become the relationship with God that we enjoy, the delight he has in us, the relationships with friends and strangers and the chance to help others and thankfulness for those who help us. Coming together as a community, society and country under God. It is a life of thankfulness as we learn to appreciate what we have been gifted with from God. recognising that these gifts come from him, that bring to us a sense of perspective, priority and thankfulness.
Perhaps you are in the habit of having a time of prayer each day with our Lord and giving thanks to God before each meal for the provision he has given to us and for those who have provided it. Perhaps you are not and this is a habit to be developed. But maybe at this time of the pandemic when lives are changing, we can put God first in our lives and give him thanks for what we have.
Heavenly Father, you are the creator of all good things and delight in us. Help us to recommit our lives to you and put you first. May we live our lives in you and through you and with you. May we turn away from the priorities of our lives and make you our priority in word, in prayer, in praise, in service and in faith. Thank you for all your provision to us and for those who have provided them for us. May they know your presence and your blessings. Help us to seek you first before all other things. In the holy name of Jesus we pray. Amen
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.
This hymn came to mind, sung by Stuart Townend.
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son (repeat)
And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us” (repeat)
The Apostle Paul wrote to his student Timothy to encourage him in his faith and he gave him these words in 1Timothy 6:17-19.
‘As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.’
May we too remember to set our hopes on God.