A microscopic virus plays havoc with the world – it keeps us apart and there is the fear of contagion. Countries are not safe to travel to or from. Various versions of vaccines are being developed but which are the good ones?

And also in the news, along with holiday-makers trying to get home before a new deadline, are refugees, desperately trying to find a new life, risking everything and at the mercy of ruthless traffickers.
And a third strand: the disputes about what is true – whether the virus really is that bad, whether vaccines are dangerous, what we should do, all made worse when leaders lie, or with-hold facts and knowledge, when self-interest takes priority over what is right.

There are some similarities between all this and the understanding of sin in the Bible. Sin spoils human relationships, through jealousy, envy, lust, hatred, covetousness. The impact of sin makes some areas of the world dangerous, and others are reluctant to welcome those impacted. Sin deceives and confuses and blurs things.

Sin makes us overly self-centred rather than loving our neighbour; sin corrupts and erodes the human virtues, through self-interest and selfishness. Sin is both an outer “thing” and we are responsible for our actions, for what we do, whether good or bad, but we don’t like to take responsibility and prefer to blame others.

As we are discovering, it will take a concerted and prolonged effort to counter the damage done by this virus and its spread. As we know, but don’t really want to face up to, it will take a concerted and prolonged effort to help the 70 million-plus who are displaced from their homes. And, as we are discovering, sorting this out is not a straight line, but complex.

And it will cost – it will mean re-allocating resources, ours and the nations’ towards peace and justice and restitution/restoration. Many don’t want to be locked down – they want their “freedoms”; many don’t want more given to the poorer parts of the world (though they do not often consider why they are poor and remain poor).

This is part of the challenge of following Christ, the way of the Cross. The challenges we face and the world faces, are real, though the richer minority can probably protect themselves from much of it for a while, if they so choose, which is very definitely not the way of Christ.

In our prayers this week

We remember all whose education is unsettled because of the impact of the current crisis, both in this country and around the world.

We pray for our young people and for the teachers and staff who support them – for hope and direction

We remember and pray for our leaders having to make difficult decisions in uncertain times – for integrity and wisdom

We remember and pray for all who work in our Health Services and in Social Care – for strength and compassion

Rev’d Peter Reiss: 21st Aug 2020