As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will seek to post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.
Wednesday 10th June 2020
‘All Together in a Sudden Strangeness’
The current lockdown began officially on the 23rd March, which meant we were under strict instructions to go out only when necessary – for food, medicine, or exercise. It meant shops, restaurants, bars and offices across the country were closed until further notice. And as we are all aware the lockdown produced some very cruel consequences - that no one was able to see friends or family.
Whilst it was necessary to stop the spread of Covid-19, it ended visits to loved ones in care homes and hospitals. It stopped people congregating at funerals, cancelled weddings and closed places of worship. Now we have reached day 80 and there are tentative signs of the lockdown being eased. But for how much longer must we wait? How much longer must the cruelty of families being separated go on for?
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
2 Peter 3:8-9
“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you”
Waiting is an essential part of life. Even my dogs have to learn to wait for an eagerly anticipated walk till the heavy rain is past!
The Bible is full of exhortations to wait and be patient. Often it is because we can do nothing else. Circumstances are out with our control. But waiting on God is never passive. Waiting can be a time of preparation and change. A time when God is doing His deepest work. Preparing us for next steps. Changing us in preparation for a new phase in life or new work he has for us to do.
Reflecting on the current lockdown, writer and spiritual Katherine Stiles offers the following reflection on the lockdown:
‘We will be back to hugs and handshakes. Concerts and movies. Protests and elections. Travels and adventures. Gatherings. We will find a new normal. But for now, we have to step back in order to care for each other. The time is now. We must act in a powerful and skilful way to “Flatten the Curve” and stop the viral spread of fear and disease.
So here is a prompt from a favourite poet: Pablo Neruda.
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about...
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with
Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
May we all be well, and safe, and free from suffering.
May we all know peace and happiness.
May we all dwell in love…’
Over the new few days, as we patiently await further pointers on the easing of the lockdown I will be exploring in more depth the theme of change.
Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Church
I wait for you to answer.
I wait for the first light of dawn.
I wait for you.
I wait for you.
I wait for you.
My waiting is my prayer.
In the pain of the waiting I feel my longing for you.
I long for you to be here.
I wait for your arrival, you who has always been here.
In the waiting I know a larger space in my soul is being excavated.
I can feel the growing emptiness.
But I know that it will be filled
with your gracious, loving presence.
Make me ready to receive you.
Prayers in a time of coronavirus
Love never fails
Even in the darkest moments, love gives hope.
Love compels us to fight against coronavirus alongside our sisters and brothers living in poverty.
Love compels us to stand together in prayer with our neighbours near and far.
Love compels us to give and act as one.
Now, it is clear that our futures are bound together more tightly than ever before.
As we pray in our individual homes – around the nation and around the world – we are united as one family.
So, let us pause and find a moment of peace, as we lift up our hearts together in prayer.
Prayers of thanksgiving and intercession
For the health workers tending the seriously ill
for the scientists working on a vaccination
for the researchers analysing data and identifying trends
for the media outlets working to communicate reality
for the supermarket workers, hygiene and sanitation providers
for the good news stories of recoveries and effective planning
for the singing from balconies by locked-down communities
for the recognition that isolation doesn’t need to mean loneliness
for the notes through letterboxes offering help and support
for the internet and telephones and technology that connects
for the awakened appreciation of what is truly important
Thanks be to God.
For those who are unwell and concerned for loved ones
for those who were already very anxious
for those immune suppressed or compromised
for those vulnerable because of underlying conditions
for those in the ‘most at risk to coronavirus’ categories
for those watching their entire income stream dry up
for those who have no choice but to go out to work
for those who are afraid to be at home
for those who are more lonely than they've ever been
for those who are bereaved and grieving.
God be their healer, comfort and protection,
be their strength, shield and provision
be their security, safety and close companion
And raise up your Church
to be your well-washed hands and faithful feet
to be present to the pain
to respond with love in action
if even from a safe distance.
God, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
The Lord’s prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
you 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.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and forever.
Let the majesty of the Father
be the light by which you walk,
the compassion of the Son
be the love by which you walk,
the presence of the Spirit
be the power by which you walk.