Daily Devotion 15 June 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Matthew 24:36-39, 44 ‘The Here and Now… or What’s to Come’

36 ‘But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

‘The End of the World is Nigh’ read the sandwich board carried by Fred as the crowds milled outside Old Trafford waiting to see Man United play. Fred was always there for home games and believe it or not was a cheery presence. Whilst he was noticed, his message was probably ignored by the supporters – though if Man United lost to their near neighbours Man City or even worse, Liverpool then it might well have seemed that his message was only too apt!

During the last century the nonsensical and evil proliferation of nuclear weapons had seemed to be the main threat to life on this planet – and let’s not forget one that remains today. We knew about dangerous diseases but associated them with far-off places. Now Covid has affected the whole world and all humanity feels a sense of vulnerability. We also know that climate change poses a serious threat to life and that earth itself is fragile. Both Covid-19 and Climate Change require from all of us a renewed sense of active responsibility for others in all parts of the world.

Our own personal tragedies can seem like the end of our own world. Those who directly or indirectly experience illness, bereavement, accidents, homelessness, poverty or violence know that feeling for real. Occasionally there are national tragedies – earthquakes, volcanos, famine and floods (Noah!) that suddenly bring destruction to unprepared communities. On April 15th 1989 I arrived at Hillsborough, Sheffield, looking forward to an FA Cup semi-final, never expecting for a moment what would enfold before my eyes – a tragic experience that will never leave me.

In biblical times, there was a general expectation that ‘The End Times’ were imminent. Many people were inclined to forecast a date and time for these events, but Jesus warned against futile guesswork. Despite this, some sects believe that the signs of the times point to the imminent ‘End Time’ and return of Christ. So what do we make of Fred’s sandwich board message? Rather than ‘doom and gloom’ and the ‘glass half empty’ I prefer to think positively. Yes, we do need to live each day of our lives responsibly with compassion both towards those in need and to our environment. We also do well to make the most of each moment – to live our lives to the full. Time is indeed precious. No-one is guaranteed a long life and tragedies will occur, but whilst we are alive let us appreciate all that is good and true. Beauty and interest is always waiting to be discovered and rediscovered in the natural world, in many different creative activities, and in our brother and sister human beings each of whom have their own special story to tell. The very fragility of life can help us to appreciate the significance of every precious moment. Despite all that is truly distressing and any fears we may have of unknown tomorrows, blessings abound in the here and now. Praise be!

Prayer:

In the Spirit of Jesus our guide we pray…for all whose time feels fragile, we ask for strengthening. For the moments of uncertainty, we ask for help. For the hours we have wasted, we ask forgiveness. For the days we have been given, we give thanks. Amen.

Reflection and Prayer © 2021 Gordon Harrison.
Image freely available online.

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