June 23rd 2020
I write these letters on Tuesday of each week, knowing that by the time you receive them, things may well have changed. This week, I'm writing whilst knowing that the Government is about to relax the guidelines so that hairdressers, cafes, shops and restaurants will be able to re-open. The economy is suffering, we're told, and we have to get people back to work.
On the news, people are being interviewed, and everyone is nervous, but for different reasons – some are nervous about the health of their relatives and friends if the changes are made. Others are nervous about the survival of their businesses if the changes are not made. Some have even said explicitly that its OK to risk the health of the most vulnerable, as long as the economy survives.
I find myself praying the words of the old Advent hymn: "From our fears and sins release us." I believe that there is a direct link between fear and sin. Fear drives us to defend what we believe is under threat. Fear makes us defensive, rather than loving. Fear makes us selfish, rather than generous. Fear often leads us to sinful patterns of behaviour – one of which is to act as if my priorities are all-important, and dismiss everything (and everyone) else.
People's lives are the most precious thing in the universe, because all life is God-given, and each life is a fragment of God's life. People are not expendable, and we can never reduce someone to how much they can earn, or how much we think they are worth. To attempt to do that is sinful.
We may choose to risk our own safety and welfare for the sake of another – that's love. But to demand that another person sacrifices themselves for you – that's wrong.
As the restrictions ease, we will have many difficult decisions to make. May we make them prayerfully and lovingly, and never be persuaded to risk harming someone else.
May you know God's richest blessing.