If there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s how much we take for granted. Whether live music or singing, attending events or tea shops or dances, visiting our friends and families, seeing the doctor, going abroad or freely browsing in the shops, these things were so everyday that we never dreamed they would stop. Some people are calling tomorrow ‘freedom day’ in the hope of reliving the past. As we reflect, we might give thanks for what we took for granted.
There’s a saying that ‘we don’t miss the water until the well runs dry’, but that assumes that we’ve got a well in the first place. Somebody had to dig it. It’s unthinkable that we could go without fresh water, sanitation, health care, electricity, clothes or education, but these things were hard won in the past by caring individuals who pressed for change. They gave up their own time and comforts for the sake of every one of us. Imagine what it was like for the first people to receive them. As we reflect, we might give thanks for what we take for granted.
The Trussell Trust, who help set up the foodbanks, campaign for a day when children won’t go hungry. Some can’t understand why this can happen, when we have a benefits system in place, and when they themselves often waste so much food. What happens when people live in poverty is that they have to choose between necessities, and food sometimes runs out. As we reflect, we might give thanks for what we take for granted.
The people in Jesus’s time were starved of the kind of teaching and healing he brought to them, so much so that they crowded in on him wherever he went. He wanted some time out with the disciples, but there was no chance - a great crowd was waiting for him. He didn’t send them away. He cared about them enough to give them what they needed, at a cost to his own time and comfort. He had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He cared enough to give up his life, for our sake.
It was no surprise that so many people listened to the apostles later. They greeted the good news of the kingdom of God that Jesus had opened the door to with joy. They were hungry. They’d been starved of God’s love. It was now accessible to them. The letter to the Ephesians said that they had no hope before then, they were without God in the world until Christ. As we reflect, we might give thanks for what we take for granted.
‘He is our peace’ the letter went on. When people make peace, we come together. We’re reconciled. The peace Jesus makes is to join us together in God’s love, so that there is no longer an ‘us and them’, there is only us: whatever our differences, whoever we are. We too are willing to give up our own comforts, to give our time for the sake of other people.
Freedom day tomorrow means that we can put other people at risk. It means that many feel like sheep without a shepherd. As long as we follow the lead of our good shepherd, we will make the right choices, for the good of all.
Julie Rubidge, Lay Minister