So it’s been about a week for us so far, and we are ok. We live in an isolated area, and have got used to making our own fun. Meeting these lovely lambs, is the closest I got to breaking the rules on self isolating on Saturday when I went for a walk near our house! It’s been crazy busy though, initially cancelling all the groups and meetings, services and plans, and then setting up a newsletter, and working out how to do home schooling, technological approaches to church and generally just adjusting like everyone else to this huge shift. I’ve also been part of the local villages attempt to reach our neighbours, and support those who are most isolated, and it’s been really refreshing to see so many people prepared to help their neighbours.
We know that the wilderness experience is one that crops up alot in the bible. Jesus was proclaimed as the Son of God by John the Baptist who lived in the desert, and baptised in the river Jordan. Then almost immediately after Jesus begins his ministry he is called out to the wilderness to be tested. The gospel writers go back to Isaiah to remind their readers that this was always in the plan..
The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
At this stage in the Jesus story, there are no Sunday morning services dedicated to worshipping him because his work has not begun. Before his church even existed, the prophets are asking that his paths should be made straight the rough ways made smooth, and the universe will change to accommodate him. Such is the power of God.
Wether we are healthy or sick, at this time it can feel really difficult to be wandering around in the dark, not knowing our future. The things we do to help us feel calmer and more relaxed are suddenly unavailable. We can’t meet a friend for a chat, or buy a pint, or a nice coffee. If we have money we can’t do any retail therapy in the same way at least. But as Christians we need to remember our roots. We come from a wandering tribe seeking a new place to live. The Israelites would today look more like Asylum seekers or migrants, than church leaders.
We come from a tradition of shouting in from the outside, of not being acknowledged or recognised. Our faith is built on centuries of continuity, and that has included persecution and dark times when the future seemed uncertain, but we remain part of a group on the edge. Because however hard we work and however hard we serve the Lord, we cannot make this world as it should be. This world will never represent life as it should be with , it’s only an approximation, where sometimes the light shines in.
Sunday mornings can really feel like a glimpse of light breaking through, which sustains through the week, but for me these are not the only times. I enjoy personal prayer time, and really love some of the apps available to help with this. I enjoy reading and watching youtube, but really the church today doesn’t exist in bricks and mortar, or HTML, we are just normal people doing everyday things. We are in community together, serving each other, and the world around us. The connections and people I meet give me hope that God’s work is continuing throughout and despite the lockdown. Our faith, our commitment to the Lord will be judged on how well we share his love in the coming weeks and months. How can we love and serve each other remotely from our homes? Well it’s going to be tough, that’s for sure. But in the world today there are options, ways to reach out, like this blog and I hope the Lord’s love and peace will emerge for you somehow, even though there is no prospect of life in sight.
Luke’s account demonstrates that there is hope for all of us, regardless of income, status, gender, nationality, or religion. God’s love is universal and never-ending. Because ‘all flesh shall see the salvation of God’ he won’t leave us wandering in the wilderness forever. So a final prayer
Lord protect us when we’ve no shelter from the dangers in our world.
Lord warm us when we are cold in the dark
Lord share your presence with us when we are alone
Lord walk with us when we can’t go on
Lord bless us in our wilderness