• ashsmith53

The 4th Sunday in Lent - What a week!

The 4th Sunday in Lent is Mothering Sunday, the midpoint in Lent and a time of rejoicing in many Christian traditions as we celebrate the crossing of half way through the lenten season and its end is now in sight. The journey to Easter is in its final stages and Jerusalem draws near.

This was going to be the focus for this short piece this morning. However the events of this week with the government's actions to tackle the coronavirus crisis has changed that. I saw this article by Tony Perkins in USA Today which i’d like to share:

We can’t help but notice the 24/7 coverage of the coronavirus on the TV news spreading even more quickly than the virus itself, leading many to wonder if we’re facing a plague of perhaps Biblical proportions. In almost real-time, the world is giving the tally of confirmed cases globally, as well as the casualties. And as nations close schools around the world, including in the UK now, the United Nations is reporting that some 290 million children are home from school, giving parents a daily reminder of the fears of infection.

The news has people doing more than fighting over toilet paper. The stock market has responded with a sickness of its own, plunging as much as 2,000 points a day as businesses fret over interruptions in the supply chain. The airlines that fly many millions of people a day are panicked as people see aeroplanes as giant Petri dishes and are opting not to fly.

Churches, where hugs and handshakes are frequent, first transitioned to fist and elbow bumps and waves, have now closed their doors altogether for Sunday services and stand empty.

Pope Francis avoided the crowds by giving his weekly address and blessing over the internet from the Vatican library rather than his usual window where the crowds would gather below.

Writing to the church at Philippi, where he had once been beaten and imprisoned, Paul tells the believers in the book of Philippians not to worry or to be anxious about anything. Instead, Paul instructs them they should pray for God's blessing and make supplication for his protection and do it all with thanksgiving.

Studies show that prayer reduces anxiety and depression. A reduction in anxiety allows people to process and react to external events with a more cognitive rather than emotional manner. And a time in which there is worldwide concern over a virus without a treatment, a strategic and peaceful approach to problem solving is a good thing.

When faced with fear of the unknown, turning to an all-knowing God is a good place to start. And for people of faith, we know that God answers prayers and that, as it says in James 5:16, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

That doesn’t mean we only pray; we act as well, but, calmed by the awareness of the presence of God, we can respond with clarity and direction.

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Leytonstone United
Free Church

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