A collection of thoughts and reflections with examples of concepts, thoughts, studies along the way.
It is intended that ideas may just appeal and give food for thought, or may lead on to something more in study, visits and theological insight. Maybe the kernel of an idea that shows the ‘light’ and the spirit we are given.
Rev’d Sue Martin
Diocese of Norwich
Where is God when crisis happens?
A question we ask many times a day at the moment! Why is this happening? What is the point? How do we work through this and still maintain our faith? The thoughts below are to guide and support the communities in our church schools. They are not the definitive answer; if there ever is an answer, but a way to consider the problems we are experiencing, and the challenges to ourselves and our faith.
What is happening? Covid 19
We are living in such a period of change that it is hard to keep up with the directives and guidance. of something unknown, unseen, and spreading like wildfire across the world. It was happening in so many places, and when it started to spread in the UK, we have taken defensive measures, like staying at home. Schools have become at the forefront of support for communities, caring and providing for their children, keeping everyone safe, and remaining a positive and enabling organisation.
Church schools have an extra perspective, faith, working with children to show an understanding of God and the Christian faith. So, how can we start to demonstrate that to our children? How is our own belief challenged?
Where is God?
So often people ask and pray for God to just make it all go away and for all to be well. But disasters and crisis happen. We live on earth and not in heaven. The world has many times and situations which are challenging. We are human and experiencing a very human problem. God can reach out to us, but we have free will and have to engage with God’s will to do the right thing.
Have we locked God in the church? I have been wondering if people do think we have locked God in the churches which now remain closed.
No, God is still with us and in the Holy Spirit as part of our lives. He is in the suffering and hard times; he is beside us and walks with us along the way. If you are familiar with the Footprints in the Sand, as below; this helps us to understand that God is with us.
In the quietness and the peace when traffic is much less than it was before
In the worries we have about our own families, helping us through prayer and in actions
In the question’s children are asking and the answers we struggle to find
In sharing so much time together, sometimes good and sometimes not
And in the crisis of peoples lives, the fear, the panic, the incessant social media.
God is with us.
Why has God not stopped this?
Often the first question people ask. How I wish there was a definite answer… my thoughts are that we live on earth, we are not in heaven. We are human with human frailties and problems. There are natural disasters, Christians and all peoples of different faiths and own beliefs are caught up in the problems. Just like now the Covid-19 pandemic is no-one’s fault, and it is not God’s fault. We are all in this together in our global world.
What we are doing and can do is to work with the medical teams we have and the science behind the virus, to prevent as much suffering as possible.
We can keep our spirits up and pray and talk to God about just how difficult this is. He will listen. He may not put it right in the way that you ask but he will help. Children too are at the forefront or talking to God, questioning and looking for solutions.
How can we work together and with God?
One of the things that always amazes and fills me with joy is just how resilient children are to times of crisis. In many ways they are closer to God and he speaks to them through channels of creativity, drawings, colouring , paintings, poems, writing, verbal discussions face to face or online, how they share and play together, how they can support each other in their fears.
We now have more online materials and access then ever before. Choice is key! We can become as inundated by online resources as we are by government directives (probably shouldn’t have said that!) Our pupils have their own great resources too.
Social distancing is paramount but share good times together, go outside with the children (if you can), read together, have a daily structure, say daily prayers, find signs of Spring and the hand of God in creation.
There are also many children who will be suffering from trauma at this time. It is a difficult time and they may be experiencing panic and anxiety. In many ways they will not be pleased with God, they may feel he has let them down, a natural reaction and one which needs sensitivity in the same way as a parent, being there with the child and always showing love.
And beyond the crisis…
There will be an end to this pandemic, we do not know when exactly and it is hard to plan ahead. But there is always light and there is always hope, and above all else there is always love.
We work together in God’s name for all our communities.
Reverend Sue Martin
A Prayer for all our children and parents;
O Angel of God,
My Guardian dear,
To whom God’s love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light, to rule,
To guard and guide.
A Christian prayer – Anon, from A Child’s Book of Prayers. From many faiths and cultures, published by Barefoot books 1997
Footprints in the Sand
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene,
I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
Especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
There was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
There was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed you most, you would leave me.”
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testing’s.
When you saw only one set of footprints.
It was then that I carried you.”
Authorship possible by Margaret Powers (née Fishback), Carolyn Carty, or Mary Stevenson.