The Gospel reading for today is John 11: 1 - 44 - Please take a while to read the passage.
It tells the story of bad and good times, of hopelessness and of hope, of despair and joy, of darkness and light, of death and resurrection.
It leads to Martha, a very busy lady, coming to an understanding of who Jesus is. This reading contains the statement which we hear at every funeral service, where Jesus says:
"I am the resurrection and the life. They who believe in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die eternally."
This incident also shows the real humanity of Jesus - When Jesus was sad, he wept. When Jesus saw the grief of his Loved ones, he had compassion. When Jesus faced his own death, he put his trust in his Father, completely.
A Few Thoughts: 'It Was The Best Of times, It Was The Worst Of Times.'
'We haven't seen anything like this since the second world war - in fact this is much worse - because you can't see the enemy!' That was the comment of a 90+ year old yesterday. Charles Dickens, in his work, 'A Tale of Two Cities.' uses these words to describe the conflict between goodness and evil - hope and despair - darkness and light, amongst other themes.
We are seeing the worst of times: people extremely ill and dying in hospitals and Residential Homes but their Loved ones not being allowed to be with them. The separation of human beings, of families and friends. An odd suspicion with which one human being looks at another. Human greed and selfishness. Food Banks running out of resources. Not being able to meet together to Worship in our church buildings. So many ways in which this Coronavirus pandemic really has become the worst of times, and you will be able to think of many, many more examples - examples that touch your life and mine.
We are seeing the best of times: people who have never had cause to speak to each other before, offering to get shopping for their neighbours. The outpouring of thankfulness to those front line workers. The health care professionals who, quite literally, are giving their lives to care for their fellow human beings. People of Faith who are encouraging others by offering Prayer and Worship resources. Letters and cards, phone calls and a million small acts of kindness which will be remembered long after this disease has been brought under control. We will be changed as this common experience of dependency reminds us that we are, when all is said and done, ultimately dependant on God. And he is Faithful to his promise that: ' . . .neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.' Romans 8: 38 - 39
A Prayer: Hold us Lord, and all your creation, safe in your Loving embrace. May we grow to be even more dependent upon you. Great is your faithfulness. Amen.
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A Call to Worship From Lamentations 3
'This I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's great Love we are not consumed,
For his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness'.
Hymn 51 in Singing the Faith or 66 in Hymns and Psalms - Great is thy faithfulness,
Which speaks of strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.