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.
Today’s Friday reflection is from David Weeks, who is a supernumerary Methodist minister, one of the two chaplains at the New Room.
I have a special affection for Paul’s first letter to the Christian church at Corinth. It paints such a vivid picture of the life and struggles of one Christian community in the middle of the first century.
There were many divisions within the Corinthian church. They argued for instance, about what was the most significant gift of the Holy Spirit, and who was the most important teacher, and whether there was life after death. It was not easy being a Christian in Corinth, that wealthy, sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and notoriously immoral seaport. The city’s standards affected the life of the church. Some found it difficult to accept the high expectations of Christian marriage, and others took arguments between them to the city courts. Differences in wealth made the divisions worse. For instance, in their celebrations of the Lord’s Supper, everyone brought their own food and drink, but nobody shared; so some of the wealthy gorged themselves and got drunk while the poor had only a meagre meal.
After trying to deal with all their problems, Paul has some final words for them. You will find them in chapter 16, verse 13: Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong.
This last year has been difficult for us all. These same problems- of divisions, standards, and inequality – have become much worse, not only in the UK but also globally. Meanwhile, the limitations placed upon us personally have diminished us in so many ways. Few of us feel as strong as we were, nor as confident as we used to be. Our social contacts have been severely restricted. Many of us have suffered loss of loved ones.Our church life too has taken a knock. Some churches have not survived.
Now, at last, we seem to be coming out of the worst of the pandemic in the UK. And although we hope soon to regain some sort of normality, there is still some way to go, especially for the underprivileged and for the poorer countries of the world. We need to be patient if restrictions don’t end as soon as we expect.There are many still to be vaccinated, and it worries me that some people are militantly undermining the vaccination programme, while others (including some of my own family) are hesitant and fearful about having the vaccination themselves. We will need to take care as we re-establish our social life, and be aware not only of our own needs but of others’ needs as well.
This is why, for me, Paul’s words remain so relevant, as important now as they were 2000 years ago. He says we need to be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong.
Gracious God, known to us in Jesus as the loving parent of us all. We pray you to heal those who are sick, strengthen those who are frail, give courage to those who are fearful, comfort those who feel alone and give to us all an awareness of your loving presence. Amen.