As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will to seek post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.
Friday 24th April 2020
Yesterday I was making a second round of delivering flowers to people who were in residential care or housebound. Again, I was at the door of a residential home where some residents were infected by Covid19 and regretfully a small number had passed away. But not everyone. One lady who received flowers had just recovered, much to the delight of her carers and relief of her family. The member of staff who greeted me, could not have been more friendly or helpful. Despite working in the most challenging circumstances, they were so kind and positive and caring. You don’t have to use your imagination to realise the difference this kind of attitude makes to the residents and their families.
Another word closely related to confidence is morale. The word describes both an emotional feeling and intellectual conviction. Morale can define the amount of confidence felt by a person or a group, especially when facing a challenging and potentially life threating situation. Morale can also describe the level of satisfaction and fulfilment felt by a person or group. Good morale can make an incredible difference. It generates enthusiasm, confidence, loyalty, team work and productivity. From my time in the military, one of the lessons repeatedly drummed into us was the importance of creating and maintaining good morael. And for good reason. Bad morale can have devastating consequences. Not only does it engender a spirit of failure, in the wrong circumstances it can cost people’s lives.
Confidence, morale and religion are of course intertwined. Without them it is hard to avoid ending up with a hard boiled cynicism, which leads to bitterness. It is here that an informed, balanced Christianity has a massive and important contribution to make in these difficult days. Faith in God should lead to inner peace and a quiet reassurance. These qualities when allowed to develop and take root lead to a quiet confidence and depth of character. The knowledge that God is with us, that we are forgiven and redeemed, that God’s love surrounds us each and every moment, and at the end of our journey He will lead us home to glory - all these and more make up what could be described as a ‘spiritual morale.’
Galatians 5: 13-26
Life by the Spirit
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
1 You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
How is your spiritual morale in these troubling times?
Are you fearful about the present or quietly confident?
Try and list your spiritual strengths?
A love that never ceases,
A creativity that designed the universe,
A hope that cannot be quenched,
A pursuit of reconciliation no matter the cost:
These are the things that are of God,
Then let us pray and worship God.
you have given your only Son to die for our sins
and to rise again for our justification:
grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness
that we may always serve you
in pureness of living and truth;
through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
• Pray for the Government and Parliament to receive the wisdom, counsel and strength of God in their duties.
• Pray for wisdom, knowledge, grace, integrity and truth and for the Prime Minister, Cabinet, MPs and The Lords, First Minister, Scottish Parliament, Local Counsellors & Aberdeenshire Council
• Pray for the godly and positive influence of God’s people throughout all Government departments.
• Pray for the unity of the United Kingdom and for the Queen and Royal Family.
• Pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in Britain.” Pray that God’s will, plans and purposes for the UK shall come to pass and be fulfilled. Pray that Britain shall turn back to God, His word, worship and ways.
• Pray for a fresh move of the Holy Spirit in the UK.
A prayer for all those affected by coronavirus
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy.
Sustain and support the anxious,
be with those who care for the sick,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may find comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.Amen
They say this will all be over,
Sooner or later
That this won’t last forever
That this is a temporary, though difficult, time
A passing phase
A passing pandemic
But isn’t’ all time temporary, passing phases,
Passing minutes, hours, days, seasons, years?
Isn’t time just a human construct
A way to measure – what?
Our productivity? Our greatness? Our failures to act?
This is liminal time, time on the edge
Time of misstepping and falling off the cliff
My time is now unbound
I do not know what day it is, or what I’m supposed to be doing
A friend suggested waking up every day and while getting out of bed shouting the day and date, just to keep ourselves grounded
They say that to offset a panic attack you should be very present
Notice what you see, smell, hear, taste, feel
Ground yourself in the immediate now.
Isn’t that what we are supposed to do all the time anyway?
Be present? Notice?
This is what it is, right now, in this moment
What it will be in the next moment, we cannot know
Look: the crocuses are up.
Smell: the scents of creation
Listen: that bird keeps singing the same song, over and over again.
Taste: coffee lingers on the tongue.
Feel: the skin on my wrists is so dry.
This too shall pass, as all things do.
© Beth Merrill Neel
May your home always be too
small to hold all your friends.
May your heart remain ever supple,
fearless in the face of threat,
jubilant in the grip of grace.
May your hands remain open,
caressing, never clenched,
save to pound the doors of all who
barter justice to the highest bidder.
May your heroes be earthy,
dusty-shoed and rumpled,
hallowed but unhaloed,
guiding you through seasons
of tremor and travail,
apprenticed to the godly art of giggling
amidst haggard news
and portentous circumstances.
May your hankering be
in rhythm with heaven’s,
whose covenant vows a dusty
intersection with our own:
when creation’s hope and history rhyme.
May hosannas lilt from your lungs:
God is not done;
God is not yet done.
All flesh, I am told, will behold;
will surely behold.
Be Thou My Vision is based on an ancient Irish Poem (8th c.)
Translated by Mary E. Byrne (1880-1931)
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.