As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will to seek post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.
Saturday 18th April 2020
'Fear and Anxiety'
A couple of days ago I ventured out to do the weekly shop. It was all rather civilised and orderly. No repeat of people arguing over the last bag of pasta or entering a scrum to grab the last toilet roll. (I bet all the panic buyers must be feeling very silly now!) Rather people displayed patience as they queued to enter the store and kept a respectful distance in the aisles. That was except one customer. She was an older lady who had a scarf wrapped around a face. From her demeanour and the look in her eyes, you could tell she was afraid. It was a curious contrast. Staff and shoppers getting on with the task in hand, not squeezing past and keeping an appropriate distance. And this lady cowering by the shelves as somebody headed in her direction. It was all rather sad. Seeing someone so anxious and very afraid.
Fear is a rather complicated feeling. It is part of our inbuilt self defence mechanism. There are some things we do need to be wary of. Taking care on the cliffs whilst watching sea birds on the Bullers of Buchan. Being cautious and attentive when driving or crossing the road. There are some fears that are illusionary. Fear of not being liked or accepted. Some fears can constrict our living. Fear of making mistakes can prevent personal growth. And I could write at great length about people who want to make us afraid. Bullies at school, work or home for whom fear is their principle method of control. Religious fundamentalists who want to make us afraid of God or the end of the world.
At the present time, we are living in a season of fear. We cower in our homes in fear of a viral invader we called COVID-19. We cannot see it. We cannot feel it. We cannot smell it. We cannot hear it. We cannot touch it. We avoid each other in public. It is possible to carry and spread the infection without knowing it. It is so small it cannot be seen with a regular microscope. One scientist suggested that over a hundred million particles of the coronavirus, can fit on a pinhead. Yet this viral invader is changing the world and the way we live our lives. For many people the outworking of this is fear and anxiety. But not for everyone.
Yesterday, I was delivering flowers to one of our members who resides in a Nursing Home that has been badly hit by the Corona Virus. Several residents have died, more are thought to be infected and two members of staff have tested positive. I walked towards the front door and rang the bell, to drop the flowers off – as no visitors are allowed at this time. I was greeted by a member of staff who was just going off shift. The reception I received was polite and friendly, and the flowers were passed on. Despite the risk to their own health and the possibility of passing it on to family and friends, they were cheerfully getting on with their job – looking after residents and answering the door to strange looking people bearing flowers.
As we continue to reflect on the season of Easter, we need to be reminded that perfect love drives out all fear. The death, suffering and resurrection of Jesus demonstrates in the clearest possible way that He is with us in every human experience. His love surrounds us every moment of every day. Even in death Jesus leads the child of God to our everlasting heavenly home. The virus is not done with us yet. There are still many people to be infected. There are still many more lives to be lost. But if God is with us, who can stand against us? Not even death or COVID-19.
Matthew 28: 1-10
Jesus Has Risen
28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
1 John 4:18
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Romans 8: 37-39
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Note todays Gospel reading and how Jesus repeats the phrase ‘do not be afraid’ twice. Is he trying to make a point?
Think about the place of fear in your life? Which fears are illusionary?
Remember those who work in local residential and care homes.
We are faced with real uncertainty at the present time. The coronavirus is a real threat to our normal way of life. Many are understandably anxious and afraid and at times like this, prayer will become even more important.
For the Christian, prayer is talking to God. We are encouraged in the bible to bring everything before the Lord (Phil 4:6-7). One theologian said: ‘the way to be anxious for nothing is to pray about everything’. We are also taught that prayer is powerful and effective (James 5:17).
A Prayer for NHS and health care workers
All mighty God, at this time we lift to you those who are working on the front line in our medical services. Our wonderful NHS staff, who are working so hard to ensure people who are unwell are well looked after. We ask that you would give them your peace and wisdom at this challenging time. May they know your presence and have a new zeal for caring well for their patients. We also ask that you would help the government whilst they are thinking of new ways to support our NHS workers. Amen.
A Prayer giving thanks for the new NHS Nightingale Hospitals
Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible effort and expertise of those involved in creating new Nightingale hospitals in the fight against Covid-19. Please help everyone working on these in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow very soon to reach the point where patients can be admitted.
A Prayer for vital supplies for the NHS
Lord, we ask that Personal Protective Equipment and other vital equipment and supplies will arrive to where they are needed efficiently and speedily. We also pray for everyone who is working to produce, distribute and administer effective tests to achieve this as quickly as possible.
A Prayer about the coronavirus situation
Sovereign God, in Your mercy please comfort and heal vulnerable patients who are ill with Covid-19. Protect all those looking after them, especially doctors, nurses and carers, and prevent this virus from seriously disrupting the everyday lives of our communities, cities and countries. Grant great wisdom to those in authority to make effective plans and help us all to be vigilant but not give in to panic. Amen.
A Prayer especially for the most vulnerable
Compassionate God, we pray for vulnerable people to be reassured, and supported safely and effectively to protect them from coronavirus. Please strengthen anyone who is seriously ill with it because of underlying conditions. Bring healing and comfort to them and their families.
A Prayer for peace in uncertain times
Lord, You are the Prince of Peace and the King of Love who casts out fear. Please help us not to be anxious about Covid-19 but to seek Your wisdom and stay vigilant about taking precautions, planning ahead and showing compassion to those who may be vulnerable.
A Prayer for Church Leaders
Heavenly Father, please grant Your faith, hope and love to church leaders as they consider the best ways to protect people from being exposed to Coronavirus. Show them any practical measures needed and inspire them by Your Spirit as they minister to their congregations.
A Prayer for those in authority
Gracious God, please grant strategic wisdom and insight to those in government, local health authorities, and providers across the NHS as they decide how to use the funding that is available and distribute staff and other resources to meet the needs brought about by the present situation
A Prayer for those facing economic pressures and job losses
Merciful Lord, in this time of economic instability, please send your great comfort to those who are worried about their finances and carry many burdens and responsibilities. Please help us to come alongside them, and give great wisdom to the Government to know how best to provide for everyone.
A Prayer for parents and pupils dealing with school closures
Father God, as schools close across the country today, we pray for mums and dads and their children. We pray your peace would reign in homes, particularly where families are self-isolating. Please give parents great patience, and help them find creative ways of keeping everyone occupied. We pray, in your merciful and mighty name, that You would strengthen families and see them through this difficult time.
A Prayer for those self-isolating
Sovereign Lord, we pray for those who are self-isolating because they are more at risk. Please give them comfort and hope. May they use their time creatively and productively and grant them good rest and patience. Please may neighbours and families step up to help support them and provide for their every need. In Jesus name.
.A Prayer for the NHS
Father, thank You for the courage and dedication of NHS staff, including those just completing their training and previously employed people returning to help. We intercede for them to stay safe and strong, and especially that vital personal protective equipment will be available for everyone.
A Prayer for prisons under pressure
Lord, please grant wisdom to those responsible for our already overcrowded prisons, where a tenth of staff are currently off work. Pray that prisoners on remand and others are released early will be helped to find somewhere safe to stay and not be tempted to reoffend.
A Prayer for self employed people
Lord our Provider, please give wisdom to Chancellor Rishi Sunak as he considers how best to support self-employed people who are unable to work. We pray for sufficient, fair and timely provision to be delivered to help meet urgent everyday expenses and longer-term costs.
Prayers by Celia Bowring, Prayer Coordinator for CARE
Il Divo - Amazing Grace