Thought for Christian Aid Week: 10th-16th May 2020
This thought was written by Janice Clark who is an ex-missionary and is heavily involved in the Methodist Church’s overseas work.
The Christian Aid leaflet that came with our Saturday newspaper had these words:
“400 days of drought 7 days to save a community . Will you help today?” On the back were the words: Your gift can help families access life-saving water. Together we stop this climate crisis.” This material would have been planned and made ready for distribution some time before the Covid19 (CV19) outbreak. The leaflet has no reference to the virus. The appeal was to assist communities in Kenya to build life-saving dams.
Because of the government's instructions, volunteers are no longer able to go from door to door collecting the much needed Christian Aid donations, nor could the local Friday lunches take place, during Lent, but donations are still encouraged and are to be made online.
The online theme for Christian Aid week is now Love Never Fails and the resources presented all focus on CV19. Here in Ryedale the incidence of people being infected with the virus is extremely low, as too are the number of deaths. Within Britain it is the densely populated towns and cities that are affected the most.
We hear little, if anything, of what is happening elsewhere in the world, other than some parts of Europe, China, and some of its neighbouring countries. It was an interview with the head of The International Rescue Committee (IRC), David Milliband, on Radio 4 that brought the devastation of the virus in other parts of the world to my attention. “Up to a billion people could be infected with coronavirus - with three million deaths - across crisis-affected countries.” Kenya has 600,000 refugees from various countries as well as internally displaced people.
The gospel reading this week is John 14:1-14. The opening words of this text are often used at funerals, giving words of assurance and comfort. “Do not let your hearts be troubled” are words that are said, while the disciples and Jesus are still gathered in the upper room for the last supper. Their hearts were bound to be troubled, having heard all that Jesus has said about what is soon to happen to him. Jesus also speaks of his father’s house or mansion which has many rooms. A place giving space. Never before have biblical references to homes, houses and locked doors spoken so strongly as they do in the current situation. How many families in lockdown in Britain, where three generations live together, would like some space? And families in places like Kenya and India where places of shelter are minimal, and to “social distance” is impossible, would like a door to close, and space to live free of contact with CV19 affected people. What does having space mean for those living in refugee camps? For those of us who do have space, how do we make use of it, when we are discouraged from going out. Jesus uses the word “dwell” and “dwelling place” in his conversation. Does lockdown provide us with the opportunity to take time to “dwell” with God, to dwell with the scriptures?
CV19 has disrupted all routines and many of us are also saying, like Thomas: ‘we don’t know the way’. In response Jesus states “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Our reflection on what has taken place so far in the last few weeks, and what needs to be done in the near future, calls on us all to respond to Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life, by putting into action the words from our District Great 50 Days Initiative - to Love, to Pray and to Give.
God of all the Earth, be present with us now, in each of our homes, as we connect together. Build us into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to you through Jesus Christ, our risen redeemer and healer. Amen.
As we turn on the tap we turn our hearts towards you, O God. As we wet our hands renew our thoughts, so we might be transformed. As we lather soap between fingers and over all our hands, purge from us all that brings us harm and might harm others. Remove the invisible guilt and shame that so often keeps us from you. As we rinse our hands, we trust in your overflowing grace, making all things new. Amen.