March 29th, 2020

This reflection is based on John 11, which can be found at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+11&version=NRSV

The death of Lazarus.

While in lockdown it’s great to have something good to read so why not this full story? 


John, the writer of the story, was a close friend to Jesus, and recorded this eye-witness account of an incident most find unbelievable.  How can someone who was dead be brought to new life?


A month ago none of us would have quite believed what we see around us - quiet roads, shops shut, businesses that have stopped trading (hopefully only for now).   This too is quite unbelievable.  Can our lives restart too?


Two thousand years ago, a simple cold or tummy upset, a cut or a scratch could lead to death.  No antibiotics, no anaesthetics or dedicated health service.  Sickness was to be avoided at all costs!  


Today, we assume the health service will cure all ills.  Corona virus has turned this assumption upside down.  NHS workers, who we applauded this past week, know the risks and carry on because of their love, care and concern for others.  They know that their courage and intervention will give the possibility of a better outcome than would have been expected previously.  We thank you.  


We are, however, now aware that sudden death is so much closer that we thought possible. 


With the death of their brother, Martha and Mary grieved the loss of their loved one, and of the way they had lived together as family.  They grieved their change of status and of all the assumptions they’d have made about their future.  Jesus saw all this, felt their pain and grieved with them.


When our way of living dies, we grieve.  Today, we are grieving the loss of physical contact with family and friends; we are grieving the interactions of daily life, shopping, chatting in the tea room, playing together at school; we are grieving our plans for the future and wondering how much we’ve lost.  God sees all this, feels our pain and grieves with us. 


God knows God can offer new life to us, just as God did through Jesus to Lazarus, do we reach out and accept new life?  


Lazarus would live again, but life had changed.  He’d always be known as the man Jesus raised to life, he and his sisters would always be questioned about that experience.


After corona virus, our lives will have changed.  Around the developed world todays generations have, unexpectedly, to come to terms with living with uncertainty thought unbelievable only such a short time ago.  For numerous reasons, past generations lived with uncertainty and many in the developing world still do.  


In years to come, our grandchildren will ask, ‘What did you do during the virus?’  A further question might be, how did you cope, what was your attitude?  


Those who are able to have stepped up, volunteering and helping keep others supplied with shopping and medicine, phoning and checking on neighbours and friends.  We see and experience the strength and support that comes from care and concern for others.  Altruism perhaps but, ultimately, where does that come from?  A question for us all to think about.


The love of God reached out through Jesus and called Lazarus from the tomb to face a new life, full of questions and curiosity.  Perhaps because of the virus we too will face a new life full of questions and curiosity; questions about what really matters in life, were our priorities the right ones, what about our relationships with family and friends, with the environment, the world?  Curiosity about how did we get through this, where did the impetus, the altruism, come from to start up all those support networks, and what will be the long-term implications be of this upset to what we called normal?  


How can someone who was dead be brought to life?  Today the question is how can communities and relationships thought dead be brought to new life?  Through recognition we are all in this together; the realisation that through love care, concern, justice and resetting of priorities, we can all have a new life.  


People of faith recognise and share that God is the genesis of new life.  May you acknowledge God’s blessings in your life, and live with the hope and assurance of a better tomorrow because you find new life today.


Health and sanity my friends, God bless!

Rev Fiona



Prayer 

Loving God, thank you for life,

for all the people who bring joy to our lives, for all the people who make us angry,

for all the people we disagree with, for all the people who love us. 


Life is a wonderful mystery, 

for us to savour. 


Death is a strange mystery,

which leads us into the next phase. 

Facing death, our own or another’s, 

is difficult and something we would prefer to avoid, if we could. 


Grief consumes us at times and makes it difficult to continue to live life to the full. 


Hear our prayers, Lord, 

for the people who are facing their own death today.

For those people who are coming to terms with illness, 

or facing long and difficult treatments or investigations. 

Lord, may they know your presence around them and within. 


Hear our prayers, Lord, 

for the people who are already grieving the loss of a loved one.

For those people caught up in the anger and despair that loss can bring. 

Lord, may they know your presence around them and within. 


Hear our prayers, Lord, 

for the people who care for those at the end of life, in hospitals, hospices and care homes, 

for the doctors and nurses, the health care assistants, the porters and the clerks. 

Lord, may they know your presence around them and within. 


Hear our prayers, Lord, 

for the people who care for people in their homes,

for the staff who travel to their patients and provide a way for people to be at home. 

Lord, may they know your presence around them and within. 


Hear our prayers, Lord, for the people who live in places where there is no NHS, 

where health care is limited and end of life care non-existent. 

Lord, may they know your presence around them and within. 


Hear our prayers, Lord, 

for the people who are forced to provide care themselves for their loved ones,

who struggle to cope with their own feelings and lack of experience. 

Lord, may they know your presence around them and within. 

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers this day. 

Give us patience to await your answers 

and strength to be the answer when you ask it of us. Amen. 

( Spill the Bean, Issue 34, Page 54 )



March 22nd, 2020

This reflection is based on John 9, which can be found at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+9&version=NRSV

Wow has the world changed in the last few weeks and days!  

Something that seems to have started on the other side of the world has spread and is totally changing our lives here.  

We are suddenly realising how interconnected we all are.  


We see our lives and networks in a new light.


In the reading today - 

It’s a long episode, 

but interesting to read of the attitudes of the various people and groups one to the other.  

We read of a man who is blind for no known reason, 

given sight by Jesus, 

trashed and turned out of town by religious leaders 

who can’t cope with this miraculous event; 

Jesus deliberately goes and finds the man to talk to him, 

make sure he’s ok and reassure him. 


Today we are all struggling to explain and cope with the very rapidly changing world around us.  Perhaps this outbreak of the corona virus will never be fully understood, 

but we do know it’s time to deal with events, 

look out for one another,


to support, reassure and encourage one another, 

as Jesus did the man.


There is a huge difference between ‘self-isolating’ and ‘social-distancing’.  

There may be some in society who will ‘self-isolate’ themselves, 

and for some that may be right thing to, 

but for the vast majority of people 

‘social-distancing’ may be the right approach.  


When we isolate we push others away 

only to discover it’s a lonely place to be - 

physically alone, mentally and emotionally too.  

Isolated and disconnected is not good.


Distancing means we keep in touch with one another, 

Making sure each others needs are met, 

making contact by phone or email or social media.  

We remain connected, although at a distance.


The religious leaders of Jesus day sought to socially isolate the man 

because they didn’t understand that the love of God, 

in the person of Jesus, 

was there for all people.  

Jesus saw from a distance what  was needed - 


he found and talked to the man.  

We can’t be physically with each other as we’d like to be 

but we are there for each other at a distance.


May we see the needs of each other, 

may we be there for each other, 

may we see we are all interconnected 

and all in this together.  

May we see that the care and concern we have for each other 

is rooted and grounded in the love of God, 

shown through Jesus Christ 

and nudged into being in each of us through the Spirit.  

God bless.


PS. Happy Mothering Sunday!  May there be cake!


Rev Fiona


Prayer 

It’s hard to understand healing 

when so many are sick.


It’s hard to understand blessing 

when so many are in need.


Yet, God comes to us 

in the midst of sickness, 

in the midst of need, 

in the midst of brokenness.


And God sees us - sees to our very hearts.


And God loves us - loves us to our core.


May our gifts and talents be used for healing.


God, take our hearts and fill them with the love that never ends.  Amen

Based on a prayer from Spill the Beans, Issue 34, Lent, Easter and Pentecost 2020, page 45