As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will to seek post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer
Tuesday 19th May 2020
'Comfort and change’
One of the unwelcome items reported in the press this morning was a number of deaths in a local residential home - Kirkburn Court in Peterhead. The exact number of residents or their names have not been released, but as you can image this IS a difficult, sad and challenging time for everyone concerned. I have been in the home a couple of times. My most recent visit was dropping off flowers to one of our church members. This was during the Covid19 lockdown so all I could do was hand them over at the door. I remember being very impressed at the very friendly and positive member of staff.
This sad and unwelcome news reminds us of several things. It tells us that we are not yet out of the woods. The virus may have peaked and there may be talk of easing the lockdown, but Covid19 is still with us. It still remains a major threat to public health. It reminds us of the cruel reality of the lockdown. Families and friends separated from the people they love. The enforced social isolation is causing a great deal of pain.
Perhaps one of the biggest lessons we are now learning is how some of the most committed, dedicated and lowest paid people are doing some of the most essential, important and potentially dangerous work. Let’s hope when life eventually returns to some semblance of normality, these lessons will not be forgotten. Appreciating those who care every Thursday night is at least a step in the right direction.
The unwelcome news from Peterhead this morning, is also challenge to the church. With Covid19 has come a period of national and personal reflection. It has jolted some people out of the comfort of their daily routines, and caused them to think about things that really matter.
In the words of Charles Wesley, this is our opportunity to speak of ‘Love divine, all loves excelling. A love that has come down from heaven in Jesus Christ. It is a love that will never let us go. It is a love that comforts those who mourn. It is a love that challenges us to reshape our lives and reorder our priorities. And God’s love is the ultimate reality. It is the starting point for all that has worth and meaning.
Finally, some people speak of this period as being a time of God’s judgment. That God is angry at our selfish materialistic lifestyles and social injustice. That God is pouring out his wrath via Covid19. I do not agree. It is a time to comfort those who mourn, to appreciate those who serve and care. And it is a time for change.
Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Church
‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.’ (Romans 8:28.)
A Psalm of David.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
In the opening verse of his majestic hymn Charles Wesley
Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.
If Jesus is ‘all compassion’ and ‘pure unbounded love’ who seeks to bring us salvation and enter our hearts’ how should God’s love shape our faith and flavour our living?
Note how when we receive God’s comfort, it also brings change and renewal. It should lead to a faith and trust and the reassurance that God is with us every step of the way.
Remember all who work in care and residential homes and their families.
Remember those who are residents and their families.
Remember those who mourn and grieve at this time.
Remember the church and our mission to bring ‘good news’ to our local communities. Pray for God’s help and leading.
Loving Heavenly Father, I come to You in Jesus’ Name to thank You for the peace, comfort and joy that I can gain from this Psalm. You promise all-encompassing provision in my life and that I will lack nothing. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
I ask You to guide me along the right path, to provide me with comfort and refreshment. In Your Name is where I can find peace, joy and a more fulfilled life. “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
It is such a blessing that no matter what destruction and chaos the evil one will bring my way, I do not need to fear because I know that You are with me and Your protection is unfailing. This continually brings me comfort. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
I appreciate the fact that wherever I am, You provide and bless me beyond what I could ever understand. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.”
Thank you that I can know that Your goodness and love towards me will never end. When You call me home I will join You in glory, praising Your Name forever and ever. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
Direct my relationship with You to be like that of a sheep to his shepherd, where I rely on You in total trust for everything in my life at all times.
In Jesus’ Name,
(Prayer by Elton Streyle)
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. You will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Giveus today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.
May the grace of God uphold you,
the peace of God surround you,
the love of God flow from you
and the strength of God protect
and bring you safely through this day.
The Lord's My Shepherd - Stuart Townend