May the grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
Anyone who has been trained to deliver first aid medical assistance will recall that one of the very first messages that is conveyed is this: the most important person in any emergency that you are called to, is you. You cannot help anyone by putting yourself at risk. It’s important to look after yourself, not least at times like these times which we are all walking through together.
St Paul wanted his followers in Colossae to take good care of themselves:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15)
Words like these remind us that this time, tough though it is, does nonetheless have some opportunities we can all make the most of. We will grow in compassion, as we feel for those who suffer; we will grow in kindness if we take the opportunity to do small things for our neighbours which can make a big difference; our humility will deepen as well as we are made away, too often aware, of our common fragility and vulnerability and of our dependence on each other and on God; and our patience can grow as we stay in, albeit forced to stay in.
St Paul also says, “Be thankful!”. Can we really be thankful at this time? Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor in Germany, one of those brave people who dared to stand up and oppose the Nazis. Just before the Second World War began in 1939, he published a book called “Life Together”, all about life in the Church community. He wrote these words about being grateful: “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” Maybe this is a time for being grateful for the small (and not so small) gifts – for the love of family, for the care of the carers, for all those who are recovering from the virus, for food on the table, for light in the sky, for that piece of music on the radio. Thank him as well for the wonder of yourself, as the Psalmist says,
For it was you who created my being, knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank you for the wonder of my being, for the wonders of all your creation. (Psalm 139:13-14)
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.