The New Room is sharing a Friday reflection each week. We hope that these short reflections will act as a point of spiritual focus, enabling a moment of quiet thought and prayer.
This week our reflection has been written by Dr Wendy Allen, Regional Learning and Development Officer for the South West Region. She primarily works with Local Preacher training and Candidate Support, but also supports the Region and particularly the Bristol District with training such as Circuit Stewards Induction, and Conscious/Unconscious Bias.
Scripture Reference: Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
This passage is set to be read today in the Roman Lectionary. It is headed “There is a time for every occupation under heaven”. Whether we consider the breadth of what is occurring on a given day for different people, or think across a lifetime for an individual, there is laughter and mourning; building and knocking down; birth and death; keeping and losing.
I have been reflecting on the changes to my western European middle-class way of life because of the corona virus. I have heard stories of people who have suffered anxiety, illness, unemployment or bereavement at this time but also heard stories of people for whom the time to reflect, slow down, re-orient and reconnect has been a blessing. I have been thinking about historical patterns in nations and cultures, and trying to place this current time in some kind of context.
I ask myself whether it is “unprecedented”. There have always been times of sweeping change, of the rise and fall of nations, of war and famine and plague. I think what is “unprecedented” for us in our western bubble here and now, is that we have been brought face to face with much that we have forgotten or overlooked: our own mortality; the fragility of much of what makes us secure; the inability of humans to “control” much of what happens.
I take comfort however, as the writer to Ecclesiastes also reminds us “there is nothing new under the sun”. It is not an unprecedented situation for God! He knows the great sweep of human history, and the many individual human journeys through life and into eternity. In Christ, God has walked one particular human journey, in which we can see echoes of the journey of every man and woman. What remains the same is God beside us, with us and in us. As we walk with God on our journey, each step is part of who we are and who we are becoming. That should comfort us as we face uncertainty about what will come next, and enable us to embrace the “new normal” whatever that turns out to be.
And we can also turn this passage around… There is death but also birth… there is tearing down, but also building … there is throwing away, but also gathering together. And the best of all is, God is with us.
You have shown us through the mystery of the Jesus walking among us, that you know and sanctify the pattern and rhythm of human life. By your Holy Spirit you come alongside us on our journey, through birth and death, in laughing and weeping, in keeping and losing. Help us to take courage from that certain knowledge of your presence and find you in all things. Help us to discern how to live faithfully in this time of challenge, how to love you more fully and how to love our neighbour more completely.
We ask these prayers in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,