Communion In Times of Coronavirus: Wisdom for Anxious Days

Part of the Communion in Times of Coronavirus series of gentle reflections
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Inderjit Bhogal, 2020

These words are part of what is termed Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

Seek first the kingdom of God. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today

MATTHEW 6:25-34

Imagine Jesus sharing reflections with people as he sat on a hillside. Many were there with their anxieties. They were living in times of Roman occupation and oppression. They were living in fear, worried about their future, and looking for wisdom. They will have sought help.

We could imagine we are sitting with Jesus on Wincobank Hill with our anxieties.

What did Jesus say to the people around him? Read and study the whole of “the sermon on the mount”. To understand the words of Matthew 6:34 read the words that precede them in the rest of Chapter 6. There are words about modesty in lifestyle, and not stockpiling for the future. The words in verses 25-33 centre on handling anxiety, and conclude with the words in verse 34. The wisdom is, do not be overly anxious about the future, live in the present by clear values.

There are three pieces of wisdom that precede the words in verse 34 and illuminate them. There is a simplicity in these words. Some may consider them simplistic, but they contain depth.

First: “Look at the Birds”. You don’t have to travel far for this. Just look out of the window. Listen to the bird song. If you want to develop the looking, get a good pair of binoculars to help. There are many resources to identify them, not least by their song. They work and play, and are melodious.

Two: “Consider the Lilies”. I like the word “consider”. It suggests pay close attention, study, be inquisitive, explore, appreciate. There is immense beauty in lilies, visitors to them like bees and butterflies, and wider nature.

Spend some time with birds and plants in your garden or travel further if you are able to. Time with nature offers nurture, nourishment, rest, refreshment and time to reflect. It can help to clear and still the mind and determine what is important. Getting close to soil can be healing. It is full of life. All people of all ages can wonder at the majesty, magic and mystery of creation.  

Three: “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”. Direct your life by this rule. By rule I do not mean instruction, but way of life. To be a follower of Jesus is to “consider” and live by this rule. Jesus prayed “your Kingdom come” expressing his high priority and hope. Jesus is encouraging his followers to put their lives and anxieties into the wider context of the wellbeing God desires for all people.

Jesus directs his teaching anxiety about the future with words about how to live day by day. Seek first…

The words of verse 34 are not about fatalism, simply accepting destiny, or just leaving everything to God. There is a basis to them. It has been suggested that the Gospel writer added the words “so, do not be anxious about tomorrow”. Whoever is to be credited, these words make sense and hold gospel wisdom in the context of the Sermon on the Mount.

Make the most of each day. Live one day at a time. Appreciate good things around you. Seek the Kingdom and righteousness of God, “and all these things will be given to you as well”.

Inderjit Bhogal, 3 May 2020. Words shared in Sunday morning worship with Wincobank Chapel Congregation

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Holy Communion

Part of the Communion in Times of Coronavirus series of gentle reflections
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Inderjit Bhogal, 2020
NOTE: While it is not safe to gather physically, use phones and social media to stay connected and in communion.

I dislike the term “self-isolate“. We don’t want anyone to isolate or exclude anyone. Of course we want everyone to take care of themselves and others. We are all used to the idea of staying at home for the sake of health.

We want to watch over one another with love. The commandment to love God, and your neighbour as yourself is best practised in reverse order. Love yourself first. You are number one.

Be a sanctuary to yourself.

Be a sanctuary to yourself. This is not a selfish thought. If you can love yourself and be gentle with yourself you will better be able to love and look after and provide sanctuary to your neighbour. As we are advised on aeroplanes, in case of emergency put your own mask on first before you assist others. If you don’t you will not be able to help others. If you love yourself and your neighbour, you are expressing your love of and for God. This is true spiritual devotion.

And remember that Jesus only ever mentioned one number. He said “where two or three are gathered together in my name I am there in the midst of them”. Be in touch and in communion with two or three. This is the beginning and deepest form of Church and communion and community. Such contact is manageable. Worship centres are closing. Organise your congregation/community/group to be in conversation and communion with each other in 2s and 3s. Do not practice isolation. And live in the confidence that God is with us and desires fulness of life for all. Do not doubt that you have communion and sanctuary in God. Blessings and Peace.

Inderjit Bhogal

17 March 2020 

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All documents on this topic are located here

Greeting and Sharing Peace

Part of the Communion In Times Of Coronavirus series of gentle reflections
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Inderjit Bhogal, 2020

There are a number of ways to greet being suggested in the context of Coronavirus. Most Indians use the traditional folded hands greeting.

To greet anyone, if you are able to do this, fold old your hands together at chest level, and bow gently. This action says “I honour you” and that of God in you with deep respect. This action can be used to share peace in the context of worship and prayer. You can greet male and female, young and old like this. This greeting also acknowledges different cultures.

Inderjit Bhogal

11 March 2020

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All documents on this topic are located here

Documents & Resources – Communion in Times of Coronavirus

Part of the Communion in Times of Coronavirus series of gentle reflections
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Here are short reflections for personal reflection and consideration regarding Communion in Times of Coronavirus.

  1. Greeting and sharing peace – 11/03/2020
  2. Don’t Isolate – 17/03/2020
  3. Just an Hour a Day – 29/03/2020
  4. Where is God in all this – 24/03/2020
  5. Be a Sanctuary to Yourself – 27/03/2020
  6. A Creed and Confirmation of Faith – 29/03/2020
  7. He Restores My Soul (Psalm 23:3) – 06/04/2020
  8. Live Your Life in a Manner Worthy of The Gospel (Philippians 1:27) – 10/04/2020
  9. Good Friday – 10/04/2020
  10. Easter Meditation – 12/04/2020
  11. Virtual Sanctuary – Building Welcome, Maintaining Connection with Refugees – 29/04/2020
  12. Three Pieces of Ancient Wisdom Still Relevant Today – 30/04/2020
  13. Wisdom for Anxious Days – 03/05/2020
  14. Lessons from Ray Davey: Corrymeela Reflection and Prayer – 08/05/2020
  15. Wisdom of Breath – 10/05/2020
  16. Stillness – 17/05/2020
  17. Attention – 24/05/2020
  18. Wisdom of Hope – 28/05/2020
  19. Six Words to Live By – 14/06/2020