Grow in Hope
During times of pandemic stress.
The decade of the 2020s is looking like a decade of significant change for Australia, the world and my grandchildren. We started the year with widespread bush fires, then came the pandemic along with protests about wearing face masks. This was followed by a mountain of national debt and a surge in unemployment.
As a ‘baby-boomer’ (between 56-75 years) I have always had a vocation/job but with more people now leaving the workforce than entering it ‘Millennials (between 22-39 years) have now become ‘baby-busters.’ Traditionally Australia has imported young skilled workers but the coming of the Corona-virus has changed the migration land-scape and we are told that now Millennials are facing the scariest financial future since the Great Depression. One social demographer presents the picture of the current younger generation being like a child left standing alone in a parking lot wondering where their parent went.
While my ‘baby-boomer’ generation is fading from history it is as if with other looming problems like pollution and climate change my generation is leaving the site of an accident for future generations to sort out. Even before the Covid-19 crisis one financial journalist wrote, “My rent consumes nearly half my income, I haven’t had a steady job since Pluto was a planet and my savings are dwindling faster than the ice caps the baby-boomers melted.”
While previous generations bore the scars of World Wars and the Great Depression the Millennial person faces a bleakness of another kind. It has been pointed out that even the meaning of the word ‘hope’ has changed. The Oxford Dictionary describes hope as, “A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.” Note here how hope rests in the heart of the person who experiences the feeling or desire. The Dictionary also describes the old fashioned use of the word as a ‘feeling of trust’. In this latter definition hope is not focused so much on the individual, but on what the individual chooses to trust in. In other words the word hope used to mean something you were certain of,--- you could trust in. Now the word relates to things you can have little or no certainty about.
This is not just playing around with words, in fact it points to a real change in thinking. It suggests that it is becoming virtually impossible for the younger generation to live in hope.
Harold Pinter, a Noble Prize winner has written, “There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is fake. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it is both true and false.” When we mix what appears to be individual freedom with political correctness and these community values then we are left to drift in a world where disagreement with the masses or the majority becomes synonymous with intolerance.
In contrast to this present hopelessness the Bible invites us to find our rest and peace not in what we, or society brings to the situation but in what stands strong and separate from us. Confidence in ourselves or popular trends can’t change the world. Where then does real hope in the future come from?
There are solid, unchanging realities that reach beyond ourselves. The original Easter event that points to the Son of God, the end of death and a new resurrection is one rock solid reality. The resurrection of Jesus Christ spans across the generations as a beacon in a dark world. It provides an assurance and a window into the process of a greater reality There was nothing uncertain about the writer of Hebrews when he wrote, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Heb. 6:19)
Christian hope is built on events that took place in actual time. It has been said, “This is the soil of certainty that Christians plant their hope in, this is where hope grows—not in the strength of those who choose to believe it, but the strength of the evidence itself.”
With overwhelming evidence, no serious historian is prepared to deny the historicity of Jesus. It is a truth that remains to be rediscovered by every generation and because it does remain, so too does hope, the firm assurance that we are not left to our ourselves and to our own resources. In the midst of a dark world pandemic it enables us to announce to a hurting world that what happened in Jesus death and resurrection is the guarantee that the best is yet to come.
Rev E.A. (Ted) Curnow. August 2020.
Prayers: re Global Pandemic Pain
“Healing lies in acceptance of our shared human condition and of a loving God who himself chose to become one of us. We will experience pain, often as an unwelcome intruder on our life’s journey.—The presence of the Divine in the middle of pain and suffering usually does not remove the cause of pain.-- Despite the prayers of many, suffering continues in us and in the world. We hold in balance “He was a man of suffering, and familiar with pain’ alongside “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Barnabas Aid July2020,Christa Friend MBACP, Dr Rajesh Munglani, FFPMRCA.
Let us pray: Coronavirus crisis
God of all we ask for your help,
in your mercy hear our prayer, protect us, Lord,
especially those most vulnerable during this Corona Virus crisis.
Move us to reach out in love to our neighbours near and far.
Grant us courage not to rush back to our old ways,
but to rebuild our world together, creating equality and peace for all.
Thank you that you comfort us in times of fear,
may we comfort each other, even as we keep apart.
We pray for your church at this time of uncertainty.
For people who are worried about attending worship,
and feel more isolated by not being able to attend.
For people needing to make decisions in order to care for others.
Grant us your wisdom. Lord Jesus we remember
that you have promised that nothing will separate us from your love.
Help us to turn our eyes, hearts and minds to you. Amen.
Praying for Government and Leadership.
O Lord who reminded us that you would be present with us always until the end of the age and who in Old Testament times stirred Joshua to call people to be strong and courageous---make us and our leaders of Government bold as we face the Covid-19 pandemic.
We pray for our National and State leaders under constant pressure to make hard and bold decisions at this time. We pray for our Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenburg and Premier Daniel Andrews. Lord guide and direct those men and women who hold public office, members of Parliament, Council members, school Headmasters. Grant them the courage to lead as they serve the community.
Give people the emotional strength and resolve they need at this time to sustain the limitations on our lifestyle in order to suppress the spread of the virus. Keep people from indifference to social distancing---and aid the flow of information particularly to those who are marginalized and ethnic groups.
Where people feel threatened ---and so strongly that they feel constraints are being put on their civil liberties, bring new understanding.
We pray for those entrusted with enforcing the law and grant to us the wisdom and discernment we need in the way we relate to others. Give to us that heavenly wisdom which is considerate, submissive, full of mercy and an understanding inspired by the Holy Spirit. In Jesus name AMEN.
Praying for those in Aged Care.
God of hope fill those who turn to you with assurance and peace as we learn to trust you in these times. In a world of uncertainty and anxiety when many are mourning for loved one’s, when old familiar ways of living seem to have gone fill us with hope by the power of the holy Spirit.
Lord, who in the gospels touched the sick and brought heath to troubled minds, Lord of life bring healing and wholeness through our clinics and hospitals. We pray for those who are frightened and lonely especially the aged and frail who are confused and isolated from loved ones and family. Bring reassurance and help to those who are struggling to reach out in faith and to hold on to Jesus promises. Give courage and endurance to those who care for the chronically sick. Give stamina and compassion to those who play such an important role at this time.
We pray for the entire workforce of the Basils Homes for the Aged. Who have tested positive and who are now in isolation. We pray for the replacement health Care workers—those brave people who have stepped in to fill vacant positions-- gaps in Nursing Homes. For brave nurses and workers who continue to front up for work each day—for the medical personnel battling on the front line in public and private hospitals---for the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
We pray for the staff at St Vincent Hospital and more than 600 Health Care Workers across Victoria who have tested positive.
We pray for those responsible for the Victorian Health and Aged Care system that is under strain—struggling to relocate people---to find nurses across the system to fill gaps. Lord hear our prayer in Jesus name. AMEN.
Pandemic Prayer: Confession and Thanksgiving
Dear Lord Jesus it’s been a long week.
We need you now more than ever.
We ask that you would direct our hearts
and minds towards you, and fill us with your Spirit,
bring refreshing, renewal, peace and joy.
You remind us in your word that you are faithful to carry our burdens.
You tell us that you will renew our strength,
and you promise to give us rest as we come to you.
Forgive us for the times we have worked hard to be self-sufficient,
forgetting our need for you, living independently of your Spirit.
Forgive us for letting anxiety and worry control our minds,
during this pandemic. Remove our pride and selfishness,
forgive us for not following your ways
and for often living distanced from your presence.
Thank you that your ways are far greater than our ways
and your thoughts far deeper than our thoughts.
Thank you that you have a plan to redeem.
Thank you that you make all things new.
You are close to the broken hearted,
you hear our prayers and know our hearts.
Thank you for your powerful presence in our lives
So that we can be assured, no matter what we are facing,
your heart is towards us, your eyes are over us,
and your ears are open to our prayers,
Thank you that you surround us and we are safe in your care. Amen
Listening to the Word.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now and not only the creation but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Rom 8:22f.
We must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently. And in the same way—by our faith—the Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how to pray as we should but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling that it cannot be expressed in words. And the father who knows all-hearts knows of course, what the Spirit is saying as he pleads for us in harmony with god’s own will. Rom.8:26f
Rev E.A.(Ted) Curnow