Thursday, September 24th 2020
I love clouds! Especially the seaside where, along with the sea's tidal flow and the changing direction and strength of the wind, the mood swings can be dramatic from hour to hour. As I am writing this, it is chucking it down - it's what clouds do best. An hour ago, we were looking at a rainbow low in the afternoon sky. Last night, we watched a spectacularly colourful sunset where the clouds were illuminated in glorious reds. Other nights there has been glory in grey.
Last night's sunset
Like clouds, this pandemic creates mood swings for most of us. The Chancellor has just been outlining the latest plans to support business and employment once the furlough scheme has ended. For some, the news will feel like a cloud lifting from a dark sky. For others, it will increase the gloom as they once more feel forgotten or ignored. Monday's latest rule reversion to 'work at home if you can' will have caused other mood shifts. The rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases will have caused most of us to spot another dark cloud on the horizon.
On Tuesday, Elaine, one of our Elders at Shiregreen, pointed us to Jesus' words about worrying. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?......Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Elaine reflected that during the pandemic, many of us have come to realise what really, really matters and put some things into perspective. That's true for me, but it doesn't stop me worrying, if I'm honest. I long since stopped worrying about hair loss - it was inevitable, and it wasn't worth it. I won't worry, either, if there is a panic buy soon on Green and Black's Organic Milk Chocolate as there was on toilet rolls. That's trivial. But I think there are things that really matter which I shouldn't stop worrying about. Like our generation's legacy to our grandchildren and great grandchildren. Or the divisive polarisation of attitudes over black people's rights or asylum seekers' protection and welcome.
I can only apply Jesus' advice if I distinguish between worries and concerns. Yes, there are things I needn't worry about. If I ended up penniless, I believe family and friends would help me out. So, I'll try not to worry about such an event happening. But if I stop being concerned about my children's well-being or the plight of the self-employed who slip through the support system or the perilous state of our planet, then I am in danger of joining a silent body of people who allow justice and compassion to be sidelined in the wake of economic and political advancement for the few.
I don't like to disagree with Jesus, but when it comes to issues like climate change, tomorrow will not look after itself - we have to be concerned about it today. And after the latest arrangements for financial support or the lack of it in many cases, I would never say to those who are about to lose their homes, 'Don't worry.' There are too many clouds gathering for us to be complacent about the state of the world. We need to try to spread a little sunshine through self sacrifice and social and political action. If you feel you can't worry, just be concerned!
Mother, Father God,
You worried enough about the mess we were in to give us your Son.
We're in a bit of a mess now.
Give us the Spirit of your Son to proclaim healing for the sick and freedom for those imprisoned in poverty, refugee camps or fear of any kind.
Give us the compassion of your Son to weep over the hatred rising to the surface in todays world.
Give us the courage of your Son to go and do something about it, and not to count the cost,
PS: As a bonus, here are a few more clouds I have spotted....