That's the Spirit!

Thursday, May 14th

Family breaking fast at sundown during Ramadan in ruins of their Syrian house

It's hard to believe that people can exist in conditions like those pictured above. Apparently this family was in a refugee camp in Syria and because of the pandemic, they decided it was better to be back in their bombed home than cramped together in confined spaces. What an advert for the human spirit and the ability to make courageous choices in such dire circumstances.

This morning, I listened to Bishop David Walker (Manchester) talking about the series called Devs, which has been on television recently. He reflected on the view of the world where we are all reduced to a determinist régime, where our actions are predicted by our chemical, electrical, neurological activity. He suggested that as humans, we are still capable of making choices and can take control of our own actions and destinies in most situations.

We make choices every day, and most of them are probably predictable. If you ring me at 9.30 in the morning, it is almost beyond doubt that I will have a mug of hot chocolate in my hand. But there is still the possibility that I will choose to abstain for once or even permanently as the result of a decision to change my diet and/or routine. On a more serious note, I am not sure myself what I would decide to do in response to the need to help someone infected with the corona virus if it meant close contact in an unprotected scenario.

Yet that is exactly what has been happening, especially in Care Homes where, until recently, there has been an appalling lack of adequate PPE. I have been astonished by the spirited response of so many Care Home staff to the situation in their places of work where the virus has intruded. It would have been quite understandable, if not predictable, for most staff to take the safe way out of saying that for the sake of their own families and their own well-being, they cannot go to work unprotected.

Instead, we see carers staying with their residents - even moving in with them and isolating from their own families - in order to nurse the most vulnerable sector of our society. Sitting here in my over seventies comfortable isolation, I can only applaud the courage and compassion of these people who have my complete admiration. This is true humanity - defying predictability and rising to the challenge. Fight not flight.

Jesus frequently defied predictability and 'normal' behaviour. He refused to avoid lepers who, in a 'sane' society, were segregated and required to warn people of their approach. He spoke to them and touched them. He mixed with the most disreputable in society, regardless of the disparaging comments which were bound to be aimed at him as a consequence. He went beyond the natural instinct for self-preservation to serve a higher purpose.

1. There's a spirit in the air,

telling Christians everywhere:

'Praise the love that Christ revealed,

living, working, in our world!'

2. Lose your shyness, find your tongue,

tell the world what God has done:

God in Christ has come to stay.

Live tomorrow's life today!

3. When believers break the bread,

when a hungry child is fed,

praise the love that Christ revealed,

living, working, in our world.

4. Still the Spirit gives us light,

seeing wrong and setting right:

God in Christ has come to stay.

Live tomorrow's life today!

5. When a stranger's not alone,

where the homeless find a home,

praise the love that Christ revealed,

living, working, in our world.

6. May the Spirit fill our praise,

guide our thoughts and change our ways

God in Christ has come to stay.

Live tomorrow's life today!

Brian Wren


Mother, Father God,

Help us to rise above the temptation to succumb to basic human selfishness,

To recognise the needs of friends and neighbours, strangers and the different;

To respond with care and compassion to all who we meet

And demonstrate the highest human spirit within each one of us,


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