Setting the scene
Find a quiet space and light a candle. Place it close by or even hold it so that all your senses are alive to the flame.
We light our candle to remind us of the Spirit of Life, love and goodness that is at work in the depths of our being.
We sit quietly, feeling the warmth of the breath of God.
We sit quietly, allowing the light to banish the darkness of our souls.
We sit quietly and reflect on the wonder of God coming to expression in and amongst us.
We sit quietly and remember Jesus, who so allowed the Spirit of Life move in his life so that in him, we have seen the perfect expression of the Spirit in human form. For Jesus and all he means to us, we give thanks.
We sit quietly, breathing, feeling, sensing,
reflecting on Jesus, the Light of the world and invite the Spirit of life, love
and goodness to move freely in our words
and actions. Amen
Jesus used stories from his listeners’ every day experiences to talk about the Kingdom of God and of the great and only commandment to love God with all our being and to love our neighbour as ourselves.
The following reflection is taken from an article by Paul Daly in the Guardian Newspaper on 26 March. The article is titled, “We face a pandemic of mental health disorders. Those who do it hardest need our support.”
“Ironically, there has never been a time when we need to be – metaphorically – in a tighter social embrace. Yes, this is a frightening, deadly viral pandemic. But another plague, one we are not hearing nearly enough about from our leaders, will arrive in a wave just behind it. This is the pandemic of severe depression and anxiety that will sweep over the world as the unemployment rate pushes into previously unseen digits, families who’d prefer to be socially distant are thrust together and young people are denied the certainly and structure of school.
I’m tempted to echo the wisdom of John Lennon and declare that love is the answer. Which of course it is. But I’ve seen enough of man’s capacity to hate man, to know that love is going to be up against it in the dark months (I’m optimistic) of loathing and death ahead. “
We don’t know what the future holds. “But now, as the reality of near-total societal shutdown bites, new layers of personal apprehension and uncertainty compound our anxieties.”
“School and work are critical elements of the scaffolding of our post-industrial societies. We define ourselves by what we do. At its base, work is about survival. The personal structure, routine and self-esteem it affords us, is almost as important as the food and shelter it also brings.
If we take that away from millions of people, the personal and societal implications are profound. Social isolation, even for those fortunate enough to keep their jobs … will bring particular anxieties.
But if you add unemployment and poverty to that isolation and denial of purpose and self- esteem – that ability to guarantee one’s survival – it follows that we now also face a pandemic of severe mental disorders. “
‘Social distancing’ is the catch cry of this viral pandemic. Ironically, there has never been a time when we need to be – metaphorically – in a tighter social embrace. As mass desperation elevates in line with lengthening Centrelink queues and increasing homelessness and poverty, civil society will come to depend almost as much on the maintenance of individual mental health as on the availability of testing kits and masks.
We need to support medically, financially, emotionally and psychiatrically, those who are going to do it the hardest.”
“I’ve never known a smile at a stranger a safe distance away on the street to go so far as it seems to these days.
Finding snippets of beauty where we can and acting with kindness – and love – must be part of the answer in these most terrible of times. The future of civil society depends on it. “
Thank you, Paul Daly. Paul says that we define ourselves by what we do and that if we take all that work means to us away, the personal and societal implications will be profound.
In my view, this also means volunteer work. So many in our congregation have given time and energy and love to a whole range of volunteer roles in the community over the years, including caring for grandchildren and elderly parents and organising social activities. Now these ‘jobs’ too, have been taken away. How do we survive our own sense of isolation and denial of purpose and self-esteem? And what about all those family members, friends, neighbours and communities who can no longer rely on our help?
The candle aflame reminds us that we are never alone. A glance through the window reminds us of the beauty and the wonder of God’s creation and a smile or a wave to a stranger might save a life.
MUC has a whole raft of ideas that will keep us socially connected.
You may like to listen to the song, ‘You Raise Me Up’
May God go before us into this future.
May Jesus walk beside us
And the Spirit of Life be a cloud of grace. Amen.