Pause for Thought – 24 June 2020

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Welcome to Pause for Thought.

A week ago I didn’t know who Marcus Rashford was (did you?), but he told such a moving story of his own background. I wonder if that was what matt Hancock meant when he asked footballers to contribute to the Coronavirus efforts? Have we tried to silence the voice of the poor in our society?

You may have noticed that scientists advising the Government seem to have slipped from sight if they say anything critical of government behaviour. Are people with power attempting to silence them?

Prince William has been putting time and energy into telephone counselling, I learned, as he encourages people not to be embarrassed to talk about mental health, especially during the pandemic.

There’s a Bible reading where Jesus had something to say in situations like this. We’re going to hear it now, in another dramatised reading from Phil Summers. [Matthew 10:24-42]

Phew! What a scorching sermon from Jesus! He seems to be pulling apart almost the very fabric of society, but there’s heartbreak in Jesus’ voice as well, coming out as angry irony.

To me it’s a reminder of all the people that we need to think of, and pray for:
People whose truth speaking has cost them their job;
People who have no one to speak up for them;
Young people, for whom confinement adds complexity to natural teenage frustration, perhaps feeling some truth burning within them, trying to find expression;
People whose experience of prejudice or false friendship is deep and hurtful, who find mockery relentless and the passive aggression of our society ignoring them too exhausting to keep on absorbing;
People whose mental health is under strain;
People who have hurts they need to fling at God, and who wonder if they should trust God at all;

Many images from the last fortnight have struck deep fear in many of us: fires, large numbers of people in shops at once, angry crowds, hatred spat across police lines. Above everything, though, one image stands out for me: Patrick Hutchinson’s gracious strength, carrying an injured white far-right protester away to safety.

Will you pray with me?
God, we feel the sadness of Jesus’ description of family breakdown as we hold before you the members of our family we miss: parents, children, grandchildren, in-laws, siblings. May we look forward to joyful meetings as restrictions gradually ease. May we share grief with those households where someone has died and they have not been able to say a proper goodbye.
As we hear the searing irony of Jesus, we ask you to open our eyes to our own divisions in our families and our church family, as if there isn’t enough conflict out there already. Put our pettiness in perspective and show us the gifts in each other that we risk taking for granted or under-valuing.
Lord, shine your loving light to reveal the fault lines in society of prejudice, injustice, poverty and privilege. Give us courage and patience to attend to them, imagining what Jesus would have to say. Amid the conflict, help us to see and to offer acts of grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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