This week’s Gospel (John 11:1-45) is a very familiar story. It is quite appropriate for these times.
A friend of Jesus has died. His sisters must have worried about Lazarus when he was ill, just as we worry for our friends, family and neighbours at this time. They both knew, however, that he would rise again eventually. That is something we are all sure about now, having Jesus to show us the way. We need to stay positive about those around us and help to keep them safe.
In the meantime we all have difficulties to cope with, staying in, getting what we need, worrying about going out and getting the virus. Those of us with children have to find ways of keeping them occupied fruitfully and trying to get them to do school work, not so easy when we have relied on teachers up till now.
First of all, pray. Pray for yourself that you keep well and reasonably content. That you find jobs to do that are fulfilling and engaging. Pray for your friends and neighbours that they keep well. Pray for the wider community that people act sensibly, not going into crowded spaces. Pray for your clergy that they are able to carry on as best they can, helping others as well as keeping themselves healthy. Pray for the carers who go into people’s homes to look after them. Give thanks for them too. Pray for all those who work in the N.H.S. that they keep well and can manage their lives without getting too exhausted and give thanks to God for so many of them who put their own lives at risk to help others.
On that subject see what you can do for other people. We had a note through our door yesterday from our neighbours asking if there was anything they could do for us. We really appreciated that. I have phoned several people about shopping to see if there is anything they need. As well as praying for people we need to act for them and act in charity by not over buying too much at the expense of others.
There are silver linings in all this. It is Lent and this has given us space to give to God. We can have a deeper relationship with him. Give him time to come closer to us. We have the leisure to re examine our faith and renew it. Find some good books or articles online which can help you in your walk with God. Take time to pray. God will really help you if you let Him. Get closer to your family. Get to know your children better.
Most of all, I repeat, get to know God better. He is longing for you to do this. Take this opportunity. For myself, I have had to cancel a visit to St Andrew’s care home to take communion. I have had to cancel a home communion visit to an old man. My house group can’t meet. My Lent group can’t meet and my book group can’t meet. I do appreciate how lonely some people are going to be. I’m lucky to have some company and the carers so far are coming in. I have plenty to do despite being denied my usual activities.
Never think for one minute that God is punishing us with this problem. He doesn’t do that. This may be from the Devil but it is certainly not from God. Many people, when they get ill, say “What did I do to deserve this?” The answer is, you didn’t do anything. It just happens.
So, hold onto your faith. Trust in God, your father and believe in him. Do what you can and pray for what you cannot do.
God bless us all.