Daily Reflections – DAY TWENTY THREE

Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19?   BE KIND SETTING: photos of parents, grandparents and/or others who have shown you the meaning of kindness. Opening Reflection: Jesus, you encouraged your friends to call God “Abba”, an affectionate name for a kind and loving parent. This is the God who makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. Help me imitate this kindness towards all, not only in this time of anxiety and concern for our health, but in all the days ahead, in all my thinking in all I speak in all I do.   Chapters five and six of Matthew’s gospel narrative provide much of Jesus’ teaching relating to kindness. The Beatitudes highlight the desire of God for respect for the various conditions and situations of humanity, bless the poor in spirit, the gentle, those who mourn, who yearn for justice, etc; to be salt and light – giving flavour and brightness to life, to make peace, to forgive – to love your enemy, to pray, not to worry or overstress… All these are ingredients for or products of kindness. Use these chapters as background to prayer today.

Daily Reflections – DAY TWENTY TWO

Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19?   CHANGE OF PACE SETTING: if you have kept newspaper items following the course of Covid-19, spread them over your prayer space. They will teach you many things. Prayer: Slow me down, Lord. Stop me in my tracks. Shield me from the rush that Sweeps me off my feet and Sends me, blind to what really matters, Spinning through time far too fast. Slow me down.   It might seem that this prayer has been answered. Covid-19 has brought the world to a standstill. Staying at home, going outdoors as little as possible, perhaps working offsite, has forced a change of habit, a change of pace. The rush hour traffic has ceased. The parent taxi service getting children to and from their many sports is not required. With many businesses shut, even the fast-paced tv commercials have taken a break. Much has changed.

Daily Reflections – DAY TWENTY ONE

Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19?   CONTAGION SETTING: photos or names of people, places, situations that have influenced you for good. Prayer: It’s getting hard, Lord, living in a bubble. I want to burst through it, to touch and to hold and to live in the closeness I’m used to instead of this closed-in existence. But I know the danger, the ease with which I can contract Coronavirus and pass it on. Strengthen me to do what is right: to stay at home, to keep my distance, to respect this most contagious invader and to pray and work for its defeat. Amen.   CONTAGION – it’s from the Latin, contagion, meaning contact or touching. While the world awaits an antidote to Coronavirus, Covid-19, we’re advised the best approach is frequent washing of hands, keeping two metres apart from others when speaking, walking or shopping, and avoiding physical contact with people, objects, animals or anything outside of our personal “bubble”.

Daily Reflections – DAY TWENTY

Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19?   TENDERNESS SETTING: drape the Cross with a white cloth; flowers/greenery with candle Prayer: God, tender and merciful, my life is often ragged and disorganised and my temper frays so easily. This time of isolation, of living so unnaturally, confined to home most of the time, is not helping, and puts more strain on nerves and relationships. I need your tenderness to flood my life and your mercy to guide me, that I might be better able to see the good in myself and be calm and loving towards all others.   In April 2017, Pope Francis spoke on the TED Talk programme on “The Revolution of Tenderness”. It is easy to find on Google and very worthwhile listening to as part of your prayer.

Daily Reflections – DAY NINETEEN

Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19?   LAUGHTER: THE BEST MEDICINE SETTING: Celebration colours; photos or other mementos that recall happy times, fun and laughter. Prayer: O God, creator of all. I see you at the birth of time excited and joyful, thrilled by the splendour and beauty of what was about to be. Even before that moment you could not contain your delight, knowing the gifts you had in store for the world you already greatly loved. I think you laughed us into being, your excitement bubbling over in your eagerness to give and to give, to love and be loved. As parents rejoice in their children, you think the world of us. We are in your continuing care; keep our hearts filled with joy.   Wisdom speaks as creator: I was by his side, a master craftsman, delighting him day after day, ever at play in his presence, at play everywhere in his world, delighting to be with the children of men. [Proverbs 8:30-31] The delight of God is evident in the Genesis story of creation and there is humour in the way the story (two accounts of creation; chapters 1 & 2) unfolds. The variety of life, the abundance of gifts – and, of course, God’s realisation that “the man” would need a partner. It’s hard to have a joke on your own or to achieve anything well! This time of self-isolation is show us how important, indeed vital, is companionship and community.

Daily Reflections – DAY EIGHTEEN

Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19?   ONE WORLD, OUR WORLD SETTING: with the Cross and candle, a globe or world map; perhaps a photo image of the universe highlighting earth. Beginning prayer: Creative God, constantly forming and shaping, your loving kindness surrounds our planet, enfolding us with compassion and filling creation with your life.             Reform us, reshape us, renew us. Compassionate God, constantly forming and shaping, your tender-hearted mercy is poured upon us, despite our ruthless exploitation and greed. We repent of our apathy and inaction as we see the pain of our planet.             Reform us, reshape us, renew us. Merciful God, constantly forming and shaping, your forgiveness is offered to all who repent. Inspire us to direct our energies towards peace and harmonious living.             Reform us, reshape us, renew us. Forgiving God, constantly forming and shaping, by your Spirit, give us respect and integrity in the way we care for our earth, your creation, help us to follow our Lord and Saviour in living justly.             Reform us, reshape us and renew us, so that the earth             and all creation may sing your praise and glory. Amen. [Baptist Union of Great Britain]   As our lockdown continues, it is timely to reflect on what this imposed isolation is teaching: about myself, my relations with others – from whom, at this time, I am mostly separated – and about the planet Earth of which I am a part. Myself, Others, Earth – all are intimately connected. May this time of isolation help everyone to appreciate the value and importance of this interconnection.

Daily Reflections – DAY SEVENTEEN

Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19?   BREAKING THE FALL SETTING: with the Cross, a memento or symbol of a time when you were encouraged or helped out of, saved from a difficult situation. Prayer to begin: Today, enter this time of prayer with your own words. Speak to God from the feelings in your heart at this moment. Then, clear your mind and listen. Believe strongly that, with this prayer, you are beginning a conversation. Do your best to ensure it is a two-way conversation. If you are unfamiliar with this type of praying, or find it difficult, take up an earlier prayer from this series of reflections, one that appealed to you, one that perhaps you have already returned to. Use this prayer to draw you into today’s time with God.   The Lord supports all who fall and raises all who are bowed down. [Psalm 145:14] Those words from Psalm 144 are wonderfully consoling to people of faith – on two levels. First, there’s an acceptance on our part that we “fall”, make wrong choices, mess things up. Second, we get “bowed down” – stuff happens to us that we can’t control; we get hurt, sick, or feel helpless when those we love suffer. On both levels, God is with us, “supporting” and “raising up”. At the time you may not realise this and feel that God has left you to it! But if you can step out of your anger or frustration for a while, you will see a sign that tells you you’re not alone.