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Related Bible reading(s): John 14.1-14

PostScript: United in all things

A reflection for the fifth Sunday of Easter.

 

Reflection

I reside in a strange country. It’s called the United State of America. My wife and I relocated here from the UK in late 2016, and one thing that has been noticeable throughout our time here is that this country is far from united. A significant number of people here so value individual liberties that they have little or no regard for the liberties of others.

This has been brought home during the coronavirus pandemic. I saw one woman bearing a sign which read: “Sacrifice the Weak”. Can you believe that? Would she believe that about her loved ones?—or even herself? Ironically, once someone contracts the virus, she or he becomes one of the weak.

Because this country is so large, most people do not travel outside its borders; therefore, most feel no connection with the rest of the world. But all of that has changed since the pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak in China has made its way to these shores and has now claimed nearly 70,000 lives, with more than a million infected. Yet our Judaeo-Christian Scriptures constantly remind us that we are all children of the same God. Isn’t it a pity that it takes a world pandemic to remind us that we share the same DNA and the same susceptibilities? We are one race.

In John 14.2, Jesus says, 'In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?' Not only does God create and sustain us in this life, but we are promised a place in God’s house when we die. God does not close borders, withhold ‘green cards’ or place anyone in detention camps. In fact, I rather doubt that God even recognizes our human-made borders! Rather, God in Christ stands ready to welcome each of us to our one true home and our life in God. Through God and in God we are truly united. Isn’t it up to us to share God’s inclusive love?

 

 A worship activity for all

Have a look at some of the statistics in the BBC online article: Coronavirus pandemic: Tracking the global outbreakScroll down to the section “How confirmed cases of coronavirus have spread” and watch the numbers increase. It is incredible. Then have a look at the data on the UK's Covid Symptom Tracker app showing the steep decline in the predicted number of cases since the beginning of April. Each of those numbers is a human life: our brother or sister in the household of God. Spend some time thinking about those affected directly and indirectly by the virus and how you can bless them. Here are some ideas:

1. Ask more
Ask God to put someone on your heart who doesn’t have anyone checking in on them throughout the week and set reminders to call them regularly. (Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6.2)

2. Send more
Take a few minutes to send something thoughtful (text, homemade card, Bible verse, jigsaw puzzle of a family photo) to someone isolated in this crisis. (God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Hebrews 6.10)

3. Give more
Give financially to those organisations who are helping people affected by the crisis but who you can't reach physically. (Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6.2)

4. Leave more
Don't buy what you don't need. (And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4.19)

5. Thank more
On your rare ventures into the outside world, thank those who are working heavily trafficked areas: the grocery store workers, fast-food cashiers, postmen and women, delivery workers. (I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3)

6. Do more
If you find yourself in a position to “do more” during this crisis, seize the moment. (And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Matthew 5.41, NKJV)

7. Pray more
Nothing blesses others more or accomplishes more than lifting the needs of others up in prayer. Make a list of people who need your intercession every day. Put it somewhere obvious and pray. (The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5.16)

Adapted from 7 Ways to Bless Others in a Worldwide Crisis by Catherine Segars

 

Prayer

Creator God, too often we live with the notion that we are in control of our lives, our environment, our world.
Storms and earthquakes disrupt and destroy lives in ‘other’ countries, and we say, ‘Ah, that is sad…for them.’
But then a virus comes along, something so much tinier than hurricanes or tsunamis and we quake before its power.
Our lives are disrupted and there is no longer an us v. them.

Gracious Lord, extreme times bring out the extremes in human behaviour
— this we have learned through countless wars and disasters.
What we now pray is that our eyes and hearts would be so transformed
that we no longer see our fellow human beings as them or the other;
rather, let us be inspired by those whom you have inspired:
the Captain Toms of the world, the first-responders and care-workers, food transporters
— in fact, all those who show up for life, who turn up for the sake of their human family.
May our lives be lived as a ‘Yes’ to the values that make for your kingdom.
Amen.

 

Rev. Dr. Jack Lawson is the Mission Implementation Coordinator for the United Methodist Church in central North Carolina. He also lectures in Hebrew Bible and is a freelance author.  Jack is the author of the novel, Doing Time, which is based on his years as a chaplain in a southern US women’s prison. His second novel, No Good Deed, which examines America’s contradictory love affair with war and religion, will be published in late June by Wings ePress Inc.

 

KEY:  icon indicates ways to connect faith with everyday life

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