"... his giving is gentle as silence"
11.00 am, Tuesday 28th April 2020.
All around the UK, indoors and outside, in workplaces and on the street, at Glasgow Airport and Bournemouth Royal Hospital, the First Minister and Prime Minister, bus drivers and care workers, plus people at home like me, united in a minute of silence.
Silence - for remembrance, and in gratitude for those who have died of Covid-19 in the course of their work. People who were just doing their jobs, who expected to live to see another summer, celebrate another Christmas, watch the younger generations grow up.
Not only silence, but also stillness. “Be still, for the presence of the Lord is here.” How many, I wondered, were praying? How many would naturally pray at such a moment? How many were prompted by the Holy Spirit to put their jumbled thoughts and muddled emotions into words, that God would listen to and respond to?
As the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans: “… the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (from Romans 8, verses 24/27)
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46, verse 10)
Even if we don’t do social media but are reliant simply on radio and TV, we know that people are discovering new ways of spending their time in the lockdown, either returning to old hobbies or taking up new activities, or perhaps enjoying the unexpected gift of time to spend on something they enjoy much more often than usual. Those who do do social media may be enjoying the virtual world of family dinners, concerts, or quizzes. It’s also wonderful to hear stories of better health due to, for example, the lifting of workplace stress or the opportunity for daily exercise.
As Andrew Scobie wrote in his hymn, “all time is in God’s hand … God gives us life each day.”
God of all time, God of all places
We come into your presence . . .
It may not be nice and quiet around us right now
and we are certainly not in Church
but such things are no barrier to you
and even if we have not prayed for a long time
you welcome us into your presence – such is your grace
We may not know what to ask for in these unprecedented times
but you, Lord, know every hair of our heads
and you knew us even in our mother’s womb
so we trust you, here and now, to give us whatever we need
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour