If you would like something to read today then you could do worse than look at Romans Chapter 8.
(Because this is a letter from Paul to the Church in Rome, it can come across as a bit of a complicated lecture with each sentence making you ask more questions than it answers. You find yourself saying ‘Wait, what?’ but it is worth reading Chapter 8 because it contains some of the most encouraging things we find in the New Testament.)
Here are some examples to hold onto:
Verse 14 – For all who are led by God’s Spirit are called children of God.
Verse 18 – I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us.
Verse 26 – The Spirit helps us in our weakness, and although we do not know how to pray, the Spirit helps us.
Verse 28 – We know that all things work together for good.
Verse 31 – What can we say then about these things – If God is for us, who can be against us?
Verse 38 – For I am convinced that neither death, not life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
These present times show us a great challenge that we as a community face together. All that we have learned so far is being put under the greatest test to see how we adapt with this new way of working and living at the moment. The church in Rome was facing great hardships too as the communities around them saw them as different and a challenge to the normal way of doing things.
Now is the time then to remind ourselves that we have our faith that can steady us as the world is shaking. This is the time to hold onto the hope that Paul speaks in this chapter and to remind ourselves of the nature of God which is to love and care and guide and equip and sustain. As the tiny mustard seed of faith or the acorn in our school prayer has chance to grow in this time of challenge, so we have opportunities to grow in faith and love and generosity.
We’ve seen neighbours shop for neighbours, strangers giving food to the elderly, the rich giving whole hotels to NHS staff, hundreds of thousands offering to volunteer in their neighbourhoods and hospitals, we’ve seen churches reach out in ways never seen before.
Maybe now is the time to re-write verse 38 for our time:
For I am convinced that neither separation, not social distancing, not closed churches, not hoarding, not lockdowns, not things present, not things to come, not a virus or anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And it will be echoed every time we pray for each other and every time we smile, wave, and give a thumbs up to each other, every time we call someone or skype or zoom or facetime or whatsapp one another and offer a never ending piece of God’s love to one another.
May you feel God’s presence and may you share God’s love in everything that you do today.
Praying for you at 1pm. Take care of yourselves and your families.