Daily Devotion 27 March 2020

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.
Ephesians 4:17-24 ‘The Old Life and the New’

17 Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19 They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practise every kind of impurity. 20 That is not the way you learned Christ! 21 For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. 22 You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Sadly, hasn’t this been a familiar image to us in these last few weeks? It might have been eggs, paracetamol, hand soap, or even toilet roll, but we’ve all been faced with an empty shelf at some point I’m sure. It’s odd for us, isn’t it, in our rich north-west European corner, to experience the lack of something, when so many of us (self-included) are used to having plenty? During Lent people are encouraged to deny themselves, perhaps give up a particular food like chocolate, crisps, meat or alcohol… I don’t think any of us thought that a fasting of particular items was going to be imposed like this!

It’s very easy to lose perspective: to get used to having everything on tap when and where we want it. The journalist Nesrine Malik recently wrote about how different countries around the world are likely to struggle enormously to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak: “The global economy is set up in much the same way, with winners who hoard the spoils, and losers who scratch around for the eftovers. If wealthy single countries cannot scramble to save their own people, there is no hope for any effort to extend help to countries with a fraction of the resources” (1).

St. Paul’s guidance to the Ephesians reminds us of the true qualities you and I must strive for, must learn, must practice, and must show – as people and as a nation too. In these days where some have, some stockpile, some have little or face an uncertain future – there is no other way to live other than a ‘holy’ life – which I think is what Paul is trying to define and proclaim. We can truly bless one another by living a life characterized by Jesus’ love.

Prayer:
Generous God,
Forgive our selfishness, our sense of entitlement, our greed
our demands for gratification and seeking more than we need.
Gracious God,
Thank you for forgiving our foolishness, and in Jesus Christ,
showing us how life is really meant to be lived: for you, and one another. Amen.

(1) – www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2020/mar/23/coronavirus-rich-countries-poor-west-covid-19-developing-world
Reflection and Prayer © 2020 Paul Tabraham.
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