Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress; I will never be shaken.
Today’s reflection comes from the Revd David Oxley of Mandurah, Western Australia. Revd Oxley wished to express his support for Australian Church Women and our Fellowship Day Service by contributing to our month of prayers. On the eve of our virtual service, we conclude our prayers with his reflection on our theme of 'Joy for the Journey: Making wise decisions'.
These are unprecedented times we are living through with the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s the adjective that all public speakers and commentators are using, whether they are speaking about the situation across the world, or here in Australia, or even of our situation here in Perth and Western Australia.
I have just had my 88th birthday and for the last 20 years my wife and I have lived on a retirement estate owned by the RAAF Association. It’s been a very happy place with a tremendous community spirit and a wide range of activities. Then came the virus and overnight everything changed. All the activities ceased – the exercise classes, the indoor bowls, the Club restaurant and the bar, the sewing group, the bridge club, the workshop for the men, the bowling greens, the gym and the Therapy Pool, and even our Memorial Chapel and its midweek services. We were not in complete isolation. We just stayed at home. We did the gardening, we spring cleaned the cupboards, we went for walks around the estate and chatted to neighbours albeit at social distancing.
Overall, I think that the community’s reaction to the stringent measures that have been put in place by governments at national and state levels, have been readily accepted and it is recognized that restrictions are for the future’s better good. Already it can be seen that “the curve” has been flattened, but it has been at a heavy personal and economic cost that has seen the closure of businesses and a level of unemployment that it is suggested will reach 15 percent.
However, I have also seen amongst the elderly a growth of fear and anxiety and anger too; yet on the other hand there has been a quiet stoicism in the hearts of many as they use modern media to keep in touch with loved ones and do what they can to cheer, encourage and help each other.
The words of a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier keep running round my head. He wrote it in the early 1800s so the language is not “politically correct” but I find it meaningful in our present context.
O brother man, fold to thy heart thy brother,
Where pity dwells, the peace of God is there,
To worship rightly is to love each other,
Each smile a hymn, each kindly word a prayer.
I was to have shared In the Sunday service at my local Church on Sunday 29 March, but a week earlier the order had come that services were suspended and Church buildings were to be closed. For that service. I had a prayer that I had amended and was planning to use. I share it with you.
Prince of Peace, we pray right now for peace in our hearts. We pray that we can take advantage of the world slowing down as a time for rest and reflection from the busy world that we have created where we must be and do everything. May we lay aside any guilt that we never are doing enough for our families and for our own advancement, and rather embrace this new pace and find peace. May we keep ourselves from others to reduce harm, and to share our love by our actions of self-isolating to prevent the spread of disease. Our fears are real – loss of income and jobs; fear for our own health and safety and the health and safety of loved ones. We fear what the future may bring. Help us to let go of fear as a force that holds us back and help us to give ourselves compassion and grace and hope in the new life that will emerge from the circumstances we face now. Guide us into your ways of peace, O God. Grant me peace within myself and the blessings of peace with others, if only through my iPad and mobile phone. AMEN
May the words of Psalm 62:1–2 uphold you. Every Blessing, David.