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In January, I had an experience which recently came back to haunt me.

As a fresh lockdown had begun, I had spent a week working from home. I had not left our house for any purpose for the whole of the week.  I had not been to the shops, to the office or anywhere.

‘Twas on the Monday morning when I received the call.  I was needed for Grandad duty.  My mission; take my granddaughter to school and my grandson to nursery.

The mission was a success!

My young charges safely delivered, to their places of education.  I was looking forward to a, well earned, mug of tea before I tackled my duties for the day.  I had just returned home and was switching on the computer and kettle (not necessarily in that order) when my mobile phone started to make funny noises.

I had been “pinged” by the Track and Trace App.

It advised me that I had been in contact with somebody who had symptoms of COVID 19 and I was required to isolate.

I couldn’t believe it! 

Other than the school and nursery that morning, I had not been anywhere.  How could I have come into contact with anyone with COVID 19?  I hadn’t spoken to anyone.  I had walked past people true enough, but there was no interaction. 

I felt angry!

Someone “out there” putting others at risk of this awful disease?

My anger, however, quickly turned to concern.  Who was the carrier?  Were they okay?

Of course, I would never find the answer to my questions.  Thankfully, I never developed any symptoms and so was able to file the experience at the back of my mind, labelled “one of those things.”

The memory did resurface. This week, as I was reading I was reading Acts 7 and 8.  It is the account of the persecution suffered by the Early Church. 

Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul approved of their killing him.

(Acts 7 vs. 58 – chpt 8 vs. 1)

I wondered why Luke, the writer of Acts, should tell us that Saul was a young man?  Also, why does he tells us that Saul approved of their actions against Stephen?

As I have mulled it over, I wondered if Luke was giving us a bit of a warning?

Whether we like it or not, we all influence others.  The attitudes we hold, often communicate far more powerfully than the words we use.  Like an unseen virus, our attitudes can be spread without us even realising we are doing it.  As the R number of our attitude increases we can end up “infecting” many others for good or ill.

Perhaps, Luke points out the youth and approval of Saul to warn us to watch our attitudes and warn us, a negative attitude, can cause injustice to perpetuate from generation to generation.

Saul, later Paul, was to write these words;

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus

(Philippians 2 vs. 5)

Or, as The Passion Translation puts it;

Let his mindset become your motivation.

(Philippians 2 vs. 5)

I think that gives us all something to think about! 

Hungry and thirsty?

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I was reflecting on one of Jesus statements in my quiet time today;

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

(John 6 vs. 35)

Jesus original hearers would have known what is truly like to struggle for food and water.

On that surface level, Jesus words mean very little to me.  I am one of the blessed people in the world; I have not experienced real physical hunger.   I have always been able to quench my thirst because, unlike many in our world, I have never had to live with a lack of clean water.

Of course, I have heard plenty of sermons on this passage over the years.  I know that there are deeper, internal hungers. We all have them.  The hunger for relationships, friendships, significance and being valued.  I am sure you could name many other ways in which you hunger.

This period of pandemic has, for me, highlighted the things that I internally hunger for.  I wish I could tell you that “Jesus has supplied my every need”, but I still hunger and I still thirst.  So, does this mean that Jesus cannot meet me in the hunger of my soul?

In my reflection, I tried a bit of role play (thankfully nobody else was near the office at the time!!!).  I imagined that I had gone to see my minister to talk through the problem.  I wanted to know what my minister would advise me to do.  The answer my minister gave was, “pray”.

At first, I thought my minister had missed the point of what I was asking.  Then I realised that my minister had given me the wisest piece of advice I had ever heard. 

Pray.  Such a small word that carries with it immense depth.  What I began to realise is that

The vacuum in my soul creates space for prayer

This type of prayer is not about talking and listening to God.  It is just about being in the presence of God, one friend with another. It is about being known and loved by God.  It is about being aware of God and, in that awareness, our souls are fed and watered.

If you are hungry and thirsty at the moment, allow me to give you the piece of advice that my minister gave me