Acts 2 v 1 – 4
As we journey through Easter to Pentecost, we are concerned about what is going to happen next in regard to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing rules, and are treading carefully towards what we hope will be more normal times. It is perhaps significant that this is happening as we approach Pentecost, when the spirit came into the world and those who had been confused, worried and anxious suddenly became able to talk of the future with new clarity, energy and certainty.
My experience during this pandemic is that I am rediscovering truths that I had forgotten and am being reminded about the importance of treating everyone equally. I have been given the opportunity to reset my focus in life making sure it is on God “unveiled”. Two Corinthians 18 tells us when we do that, we will be transformed from one degree of glory to another; as the hymn Love Divine, a favourite of mine, does when it says “changed from glory into glory till in heaven we take our place”.
The pandemic is causing deep distress and sorrow to many who have lost loved ones and their suffering is beyond description. We honour and remember all those that have died, their loved ones left behind, and hold them all close in our thoughts and in our prayers.
This experience is changing our lives in so many ways making it clear that what is important is our relationships with one another and with Jesus, our Lord and master.
Pentecost, when God sent his Spirit to be in the whole world, can be read about in Acts 2: 1-13. In that chapter, we read about fellowship in verses 42–47 where all those who gathered together shared everything, realising that it was not just theirs, but for everyone and to be shared equally. This feeling of fellowship is being rediscovered and for many of us is a bit of a revelation. We need to put justice, fairness and equality at the top of our agendas, valuing those who care for us, often without regard for themselves. Whilst we have always known we need hospitals and care homes, the importance of these facilities is now so much more in our minds. As we move on, I will be doing all I can to retain a conscious appreciation of the importance of the caring services and of all the people serving in them.
As we edge forward in our lives, we have an opportunity to recast our thinking and priorities. I have recently been thinking about Moses and the Israelites as they escaped from Egypt as recorded in Exodus 14. They were, as you will remember, between a rock and a hard place being chased by the Egyptian army and, with the Red Sea before them, with nowhere else to go. If we read on in that passage at v14 you will see that the answer was to be silent because the Lord will fight for us. However, I am not sure the Israelites would have been thinking of being silent at that moment. Nevertheless, that is what is recorded so we need to remember the value of being quiet and of listening.
Many people have said that during the lockdown they are now more aware of bird song and the sounds of nature all around them because it is so much quieter. While I was out getting my daily exercise about 8pm the other evening, I was astonished to hear at least two song thrushes singing their hearts out loud and clear with an intricate and wonderfully varied combination of sounds which I had not heard before. If you would like to hear their song just google it. The quiet of lockdown has enabled me to hear that amazing bird song. This reminds me of what Nigel and I suggested at the beginning of our two years of office as United Reformed Church General Assembly Moderators in July 2018, that being able to truly listen is very important.
We might think of ourselves at present as being between a rock and a hard place in our lives, not really knowing what to do for the best as we battle against the invisible coronavirus threat. It occurs to me that perhaps in our anxious moments we need to be silent to be able to hear and trust in God. We need to stop worrying and becoming over anxious and remember to put our trust in the love of God. Change is ever present and we will be constantly transformed when we focus on God unveiled. See 2 Corinthians 16-18 which says that focusing on God unveiled will change us from glory into glory. So, let us take this opportunity to be transformed, and to be moved on as the body of Christ, living our lives as God wants us to in peace, harmony, justice and equality for all.
I therefore give thanks for all those showing love, care and attention to those in need and will remind myself to value God’s creation by opening myself to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
God said to Noah: “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on earth.”
We go forth therefore in the knowledge that God loves all his creation, which we are part of, and that we are to be silent, attentive and ready to live out the hope this gives us as we listen and put our faith into action transformed from glory into glory by the love of God.