I went to the church yard this afternoon and looked at all the beautifully tended graves. Some commemorating people who lived long lives, others whose lives were tragically curtailed. Many, particularly after Mothering Sunday, are covered in flowers. Deeply missed.
We know that, sadly, we will almost certainly be burying many people in the coming months who will also be deeply missed. Worse than that, we know that some of those deaths will be avoidable. A failure to follow advice- to wash hands frequently and maintain safe distances from one another- will kill people. Please do whatever you are able to do and stay at home, wash your hands, keep your distance. This is not for the sake of ticking a government box. It is to keep people alive- to keep them in the community- not six feet under in the church yard.
As Christians we remember in baptism that greatest of all washing- the washing away of our sins, our mistakes, our selfishness, our weaknesses. We wash in the waters- the living waters of Christ Jesus, and we are renewed- we start again. We can all use this strange time we find ourselves in to wash ourselves- physically and spiritually, coming daily and hourly to the one who is our living water. This pandemic is a chance for many of us to take stock, to re-think what we have prioritised, and what we have been too busy to attend to. It is a forcible slowing down. It may be time to wash more than our hands clean, and to ask God how we shall use the incalculably precious gift of life.
Wash- wash your hands- but don’t just wash your hands, wash your worries off, wash your guilt off, wash your heavy heartedness off. Seek God’s guidance and renewal:
“You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.”
Psalm 51 v 6-10