Text: Psalm 51:10 (BCP), “Make me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Weighed down as we are at this moment by numerous instructions and restrictions, it is time to think about “direction”. Where are we going in this stressful period of the pandemic? Archbishop Donald Coggan gave some simple advice, which I think can be helpful. It was 'up', 'in' and 'out'. We had been celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the first Anglican Communion service in 1978 aboard a ship just off Iqaluit. Here is one direction we can follow!
1. “Look upwards!” The words, “make me a clean heart,” remind us to look upward to our Maker and Creator. Believers find comfort in the belief that God made us and we were created in the image of God. We cannot resolve all the problems of disease, etc., but we firmly believe that God loves us. So we look up to God. When we look up and acknowledge God as our Maker and Creator, who is holy and righteous, then we can go forward with confidence. God calls us to be the same, holy and righteous. Hence “make me a clean heart, O God” directs us to copy the example of the Creator. We are to lift up our thoughts away from the worries of the virus and anything else that is worrying us. Look up to the One who can make us pure, can make us whiter than the snow. Keep focused on God the Creator.
2. “Look inwards!” Being in lockdown, or in self-isolation should inspire us to look inwards to our deep inner selves. How are we really in this stressful time, as we keep track of positive cases in the province? The God who made us can also “renew a right spirit within us.” We are instructed to wash our hands, to distance ourselves from others and to stay close to home! Let us look inwards and see if our hearts – our personal lives are indeed, pure and clean. We need to self-examine ourselves, to distance ourselves from evil. We are to repent, as in the Baptismal vows we made when we became a Christian. All this, I am sure, is not new to most of us. The present crisis merely re-enforces the need for Christians to follow the directions of the Lord Jesus Christ. He can give us inward peace and forgiveness. Do not, though, dwell too much on yourselves!
3. “Look outwards!" The Psalmist not only has concerns about one's personal problems, but concludes with a prayer to call upon God to “build the walls of Jerusalem.” There are others in this world who need help and direction. The Church also must look up and build up the faith. In the Acts of the Apostles, the first Christians reached out to Jews and Gentiles. Every Church is called to look outwards – to as it were, 'build up the walls of Jerusalem', helping others and spreading the Faith.
The needs of people throughout the world are great. Let the Church give direction. Perhaps the Archbishop's simple message will encourage all of us to keep looking upwards, inwards and outwards. In a small way, each of us can do our part, despite the pandemic, in proclaiming the Kingdom of God. We can bring hope and love to our troubled world. God bless you all.
(photo- courtesy of Max Andrey)