Some thoughts from Glenys Allinson
Lectionary reading Luke 24 v13-35
For many of us in this strange and difficult situation, there has been the blessing of additional free time to catch up on our reading, and I am currently reading Dominion by the historian Tom Holland. He has written for many years on the ancient world of Persia, Greece and Rome, and his researches led him to wonder what it was that changed this brutal world, where individual human worth was of no relevance, into the western world we know today, where human beings are recognised as having intrinsic value as individuals. Though not himself a Christian, he came to recognise that the catalyst for a gradual change, the fulcrum, was in fact the totally radical nature of the life and teachings of Christ, and the message spread by those early apostles. He has written a history of the gradual, profound and enduring effect that Christianity has had on the western world down to the present day. “Even the increasing numbers in the West” he says “who have now abandoned the faith of their forebears…..remain recognisably its heirs.”
And so it has proved in the current situation. It has not been everyone for themselves. There has been a strong recognition of the importance of protecting and supporting those most vulnerable in our society. The capable and the strong have made an effort to support the sick and those in difficulties. As a society, we have collectively condemned those who have tried to profit from other people’s misfortune, taken more than their fair share or whose actions have put others at risk. We have applauded those who have risked their own lives to help the sick and to keep communities going. We have supported the use of resources to prevent people from being destitute. Those many volunteers who have stepped forward to help others may or may not be Christians but they are all displaying profoundly Christian values.
So, when we look at a world which often looks at the church as irrelevant, it is good to remember when it comes to the crunch that the mindset that began with valuing each person as a precious and loved child of God, literally worth dying for, has led to values that underpin so much of what makes our society what it is, even if that is not always recognised by those living out those values.
Perhaps it has been painful but good for us not to be able to worship in our buildings for a while but to have to find different ways of walking alongside each other; to realise that our fellowship has endured in online worship, in caring phone calls and errands of mercy for those in difficulties. Perhaps it has been good for us to recognise that the enduring values of Christianity are also very much alive and well in our wider society, even in those who would by no means call themselves Christian. They are so woven into the warp and weft of our national and community life that they are simply the way we want to do things. Praise the Lord!
Lord, may our hearts burn within us as you accompany us along this difficult road; may we recognise you as bread is broken, the hungry are fed and those in need are cared for; and may our world continue to be blessed by the power of your unconditional love, lived out in the lives of giving and caring by so many in our communities. Amen