When I last wrote a reflection for RM war on Ukraine had yet to be declared by Russia. We were living in the hope that war would be averted and tensions would be dialled down and now, what a pleasant place that seems in comparison to the world we find ourselves in today. As L.P. Hartley wrote, 'The past is a foreign country and they do things differently there'. Today we learnt that a hospital full of mothers and children was bombed, the 'humanitarian corridors' are a brutal sham and the west is being threatened with nuclear attack.
Yet there is still a sense of unreality because life is, for most of us, continuing as normal although storms are looming. This week the rising costs of running our cars and use of household fuel are beginning to bite. Warnings of how difficult it is going to become are increasing and it's hard not to get apprehensive. Rising costs of transport affect everyone but in rural areas particularly it becomes a very real problem for both domestic and commercial users. We've been kept at home due to Covid restrictions but will we now be forced to stay at home to save on transport costs? How is this going to impact on rural mission and ministry? It seems keeping local, investing in relationships where we are, as many of us have been doing since the first lockdown of March 2020, should still be our focus
So how should we live now in THIS age of anxiety and worry and fear? The logical, robust common sense of C. S. Lewis is currently being highlighted on social media for good reason even if it is from 1948:
“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation... It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
...the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”
Lewis is right. I know it's hard to focus with this international conflict dominating the news, especially when we are still struggling from the effects of the pandemic, but now is NOT the time to lose heart or focus! There have always been wars and rumours of wars - this is the state humanity is in as a result of the Fall. But there is another kingdom and each of us are called to be light bearers, candles in the dark, hope kindlers, constant reminders of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is what Polish, Hungarian and Ukrainian Christians are doing right now - showing what it is to be citizens of this Kingdom to thousands of refugees as they offer practical support but also reassuring them that God still has a plan for their lives. Let's continue to pray for our fellow believers ministering to others as they live in the shadow of war themselves.
As for us, we will not lose heart or grow weary of doing good and we will stand firm*. Let's keep our focus, stay clear headed and not be shaken from what we are called to be and to do in this season:
'The times and seasons of my life lie in God's hands, and I am only the steward of my days. The worth of my work is His to weigh, the task of today the focus of my plans.' Celtic Daily Prayer Book 2 p1061
May hope be kindled in your heart today that you may kindle hope in others.
Director: Wales and South West England
*2 Corinthians 6:16, Galatians 6:9 & Ephesians 5: 11