Thoughts from the isolation sofa…………….

Chaplaincy at Canterbury Christ Church

Thoughts from the isolation sofa…………….

Ok I’ll admit it, I’m scared.  Both my wife and son have underlying medical conditions that places them in the higher risk category. My son is at school, travelling on public transport and to be honest due to his various conditions at times he is not the best role model for hand washing.  So yes, I’m scared for my immediate family, I’m also scared for my larger family that live many miles away and the communities that I minister to that I can no longer be with. But what can I do about the situation? Nothing.

However, that fear cannot eat me up after all I claim to believe in the Almighty loving God, who through his Son Christ Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes” (Matt 6:34 Msg) and at the moment the Father has kept myself and my family safe and I trust Him to carry me through any adversity I might face, like He has in the past because He is the unchangeable, omnipresent loving Father.

So, what can I realistically do? Firstly, I can take advice from those in authority. In Matthew 22:19 Jesus instructs the Herodians and the disciples of the Pharisees “…render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (NASB) My worries and fears are God’s, my safety and that of our wider community are the Government’s and therefore at the moment we are morally obliged to take their advice. Whether that be restricting our travel, self-isolating or working from home, at the moment these are the wishes of our elected officials that we have (no matter our personal political viewpoints or disagreements).

Secondly “I can love my neighbour as myself” Lev 19:18b c.f. John 13:34 In other words I can take all reasonable measures not to pass the virus on. I can make sure that I am washing my hands for twenty seconds and more often. Only sneeze into tissues and ensure that they go straight into the bin. Do not touch anything unless I must and disinfect where possible anything that I have. But I can also go further than that. I can be careful with my shopping, buying only what I need and being doubly careful not to waste. If need be, I can reduce my portions and share what I have. Stockpiling does not make you any safer, it just increases the vulnerability of those that cannot stockpile for various reasons. Shift workers cannot always get to shops when they are restocked, many families have strict budgets and cannot afford to stock up. Other people do not have the space or facilities to store large quantities of food. If you’ve used one bottle of bleach in the last month do you need more than two, let alone ten or twenty. Place yourself in shoes of the shop staff, can you justify emptying the whole stock of shop and then expect the staff working there to willingly serve you the products that they themselves need. Can you look them in the face knowing that you are increasing the vulnerability of not only them but also their families?

Thirdly, I can pray. The rhythm of morning and evening prayer is not only good for my own mental health as it provides me with routines. It keeps me connected with the larger community in several ways. It keeps me connected by tracing the rhythm of the life of the Church that can be traced back millennia; my intercessions focus my thoughts on those that I pray for; it joins me with the unending cycle of Christians praying around the world. But prayer is more important than that, it connects me with the Son in that garden. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the soon to be crucified Son called out to His Father in agony. In what Thomas Moore described as the most important part of the Easter narrative the Son begged the Father to take the cup from Him. As we know that was not to be the case and the predestined events were to follow yet at no time did the Father desert the Son. By our own prayers to the Father we connect into that narrative, we transfer the agony of our own situation to the Father and in turn the Father promises not to desert us. How can I be so sure of this? Because Christ became fully human for our sakes and dwelt among us here on earth and therefore if God did not forget His Son Christ Jesus then He will not desert us.

May the love of the Father surround you and all that you love and keep you safe in the coming weeks.

Pete.  Associate Lay Chaplain.

During the Covid-19 outbreak there is potentially times when face to face with the Chaplaincy team will not be possible.  We are all working hard to transfer as much of what we do onto digital platforms and develop other ways of engaging. Please keep an eye on our usual social media feeds. You can contact us by chaplaincy@canterbury.ac.uk.

Leave a message, say a prayer or simply write their name

Your email address will not be published.

Feel free to light a candle, leave a message, say a prayer or simply write the name in loving memory of those whom we have loved and lost but whose memory we cherish. Light a candle