I have just returned from my second funeral this week. Very sad… seats set 2 metres apart, and the maximum number of mourners allowed is ten. Video livestreaming links others. An opening verse with words that everyone knows - “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me – your rod and staff they comfort me” (Psalm23: 4) - said outside and in – links us in prayer together by his Spirit, I believe. So, there is shared grief with no touch.
The psalmist says to us:
When your steps are guided by the Lord,
And you delight in his way,
Though you stumble you shall not fall headlong,
For the Lord holds you fast by the hand (37: 23-24).
We are not alone. Jesus is reaching out. We prepare the way for him (Luke 1: 77-79). And we are on a new “frontline” - handling lone sadness. Jesus wept. How sad he must be for people dying fearful and alone. And so, we can pray today for his strength for us. Jesus says, “come to me…and I will refresh you”. And we ask for his blessing as we help to care for each other…
It is tough at the moment - it seems we are not yet half way though lock down. We may have new routines, but there is still uncertainty. Of course, prayer helps, but the headlines of worry are unceasing. And there is something else however – a realisation that things will not return – we are heading into a new era. And please God may others see the strength and hope of a God who loves us. Lone working is very hard. With the exam season approaching we are all thinking of students working and preparing. Somehow, more than ever, our loving God is the rock to which we can cling. He knows our uncertainty. He also knows the future. We are his disciples. And many more know him that we think. Most people know the words of the Lord’s prayer – that’s a start to faith. And they all said them this morning.
Finally, a verse for today: When Barnabas arrived in Antioch and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, fill of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord (Acts 11: 23-24).
Let us be encouraged, and encourage...