REFLECTIONS & ENCOURAGEMENTS: understanding and growing through the covid-19 challenge.
Bishop Peter Brain Reflection 29: Pandemic encouragements
I hope that you have seen and experienced some encouragements during the pandemic. Finding it difficult to remain positive at the moment, especially if I watch too much news, I have been grateful for the many reasons for encouragement as I open my eyes and ears to what is going on around me. I have always been taken with Bishop Ryle’s one-liner: sickness is catching but health isn’t! I am thankful to our Heavenly Father for the health giving tonics that He has brought across my path in this past week. Let me share some with you.
Judy phoned Christine to remark how helpful was a recipe she had read in the MU quarterly Mia Mia. Not being given to baking she decided it would be a good break from the computer. Pumpkin muffins have been the result. Initially she dropped some off to others in her retirement village, phoning the people and alerting them that there were some goodies at their door. Now that isolation is over this has morphed into inviting herself to a cuppa and she brings the muffins! The joy for Judy: a new skill and new friends.
A Diocesan leader was greatly encouraged as a good number of parish councillors in different parishes took up the challenge at the start of the pandemic to keep in contact with a number of parishioners. This they have done, to their own joy, and no doubt the encouragement of many parishioners, not to mention the Vicars who have been similarly encouraged at this shared ministry. The memorable line from the Morning Prayer collect: whose service is perfect freedom comes to mind; proven in the doing.
The news of several ministries not only reaching but excelling giving targets has been full of encouragement. Learning that a mission aid group has been receiving increasing levels of support from Australian Christians to meet the growing demands of the pandemic was an occasion of much thankfulness, knowing how much joy this help would mean to our persecuted brothers and sisters. The closing verses (9:12-15) of the apostles extended exhortation to sacrificial generosity in 2 Corinthians 8-9 came to mind.
Rugby fans are also rejoicing, I understand, since they can be confident that with the pandemic reduced series, an Australian team is sure to win this season’s Super Rugby championship!
Our local oval has been a hive of activity. Whilst it is not as busy now, it was great to see many families exercising and just generally spending time together. There is no doubt that physical exercise is of some value (1 Timothy 5:8a) and all the more so with adults, especially dads, spending time with their children, kicking and throwing the ball around. The more I walk and pass the time of day the less likely I am to succumb to the blues.
I’m not sure why it is that people have been quicker to exchange a few words of greeting during the pandemic. Perhaps it is the sense of solidarity that restrictions and a common challenge bring. Joint activities, even if it is only walking a few laps bring opportunities for passing conversation. It is certainly better for us all than shared grumbling, isolation or the panic buying born out of fear, emerging again as in those early weeks.
Missionary friends from Uganda shared recently that despite the many food shortages and absence of daily wages of their local friends, there has been much prayer and fasting amongst their fellow Christians. Whilst we tend to put all our expectations on governmental help, our brothers and sisters in Christ in what we call poorer nations, tend to be at prayer, seeking God’s help and thanking Him for all has done for them in Christ. “They struggle physically but have an incredible capacity to strive spiritually”, observed Margie. What a blessing it is to have such encouragement before us. I recalled the old chorus: Let the weak say I am strong/Let the poor say I am rich/Let the blind say I can see/ It’s what the Lord has done for me. I was reminded me of James 1:9-10.
On the weekend we heard from a missionary couple, whose young adult daughter had recently visited them overseas and was deeply moved by the sacrificial work of local Christians in providing schooling for the children of brick kiln workers. Sharing this experience with her young adult friends at her home church they decided to provide the necessary support for the school to continue during the pandemic. Here is retail therapy, buying for others, that really works! Another example of pandemic generosity that is bringing joy to many.
Healthy examples are health giving and catching, for which I thank God, and seek His help to emulate. Unlike sickness health needs to be pursued for all it’s worth (1 Timothy 5:8, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and 2 Peter 1:3-11).
Peter Brain 7th July, 2020