“ A week is a long time in politics” ( Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of Great Britain, approx 1963)
By any reference point you choose, this has been an extraordinary week here in the UK. From government suggestions and guidelines right through to orders to close all places people would normally meet and gather this evening, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak tonight has quite rightly called our situation “unprecedented”. LIfe is going to be not just a bit different, but extraordinarily different.
I normally shy away from all things political, but I am impressed with the speed that critical decisions have been made this week to ensure the safety of lives, and jobs. I am also delighted that our country has woken up to an appreciation of the dedication of keyworkers. Long may that last.
I also applaud the incredible dedication of those in ministry in our churches. They, too, have had to react very quickly to the shifting sands of decisions this week, and “Church” is going to function in a whole new way.
I am reminded of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, which has a lot to say about the Church as the Body of Christ. My focus today went to verses 26 and 27:
“26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
I have not blogged in a while, partly because I have been trying to stand in the biggest storm of my life since last October. I was diagnosed with Stage 1A endometrial cancer on Oct 5th, given a date for surgery (hysterectomy) exactly a month later, and 25 days after that, my mother passed away. My wonderful, dearly loved uncle, my mum’s older brother, made the difficult journey from Wales for her funeral, and we all smiled as he took 18 minutes to read 4 bible verses, regaling us with stories of their lives together as children. 6 weeks later, he too passed away.
I should know from my work as a Counsellor that my mum’s death was actually peaceful, and a blessing, and my mourning should also have been straightforward. But one trauma hitting hard on another, and another, leaves you reeling. Even though I know both Mum and my Uncle are now in heaven, it is still hard.
And this will be my first Mother’s Day in 61 years that I have no mum to lavish love upon.
But the Coronovirus is doing one thing; it levels us. No-one can tell if they are going to get it, and all the precautions in place are absolutely critical. But… and it is a big but… we cannot control what happens with the virus, but we can control how we respond. When I had surgery, it felt like an attack on my body. In any other scenario, being cut with a knife is grounds for assault! It hurt, and I had to work hard to regain some semblance of strength, which took a long time.
This last week, I contracted a dry, persistent cough and feelings of dizziness. Had to stop work, which was horrible, given that I had only started part time work 2 weeks ago. My emotions went haywire. Physically reeling, it was easy to think “Not again Lord. Haven’t I had enough?” Planning to work from home, as also being diabetic, I am in a risk group so should practise social distancing for 12 weeks.
But this is where, and this is when the Church in action has to rise. Pastors around the UK are figuring out how to keep people connected without being able to gather. Pray for your Pastors – never has their work been so vital in our spiritual health. Let us BE the Church, the BODY of CHRIST – demonstrate to everyone that love can rise, we can be creative in our help and reach out practically until we are allowed the sheer joy of being able to shake a hand or give a hug once more.
It has been a VERY long week, and there may well be more long weeks to come. Check your responses, wash your hands, keep saying thank you – over and over – build resilience and patience into the children, protect others as well as yourself, and look forward to a time when we will get through this.
Oh, and please stop panic buying – it is the lowest form of selfishness. And whilst you do, spare a thought for the millions around the world who never have enough on shopping shelves… and would dearly love a choice of any kind…