COLUMNIST: Pastor’s Pen

Two friends of mine have just had some good news, writes Rev. Ron Elsdon.

Pastor's Pen column
Pastor's Pen column
Pastor's Pen column

They can go out again! March seems a long time ago now, when they and many others got letters telling them that, because of their serious health issues, they had to self-isolate. After being stuck in their homes for three months, they can now go out again, subject of course to social distancing.

Others like me, getting older, did not receive shielding letters, but were strongly advised by our doctors to see ourselves as ‘vulnerable’ and take great care about where we go and who we come in contact with.

I have not been into any building since mid-March apart from my own home; I have chatted with neighbours on Thursday evenings but only at a distance. Otherwise, I have only talked to others on the phone or seen my family by using Zoom conferencing software on my computer.

But, now things are beginning to change. Restrictions are lifting gradually, and I am looking forward to a day very soon when I can invite a couple of friends to come around and have a chat in the garden.

I am also hoping to visit a friend fairly soon whose wife died last autumn; I know how lonely he is these days.

Meanwhile, lots of airtime on TV news programmes and radio phone-ins is about how much we are now allowed do and what we still shouldn’t.

Understandable, of course, but some of it sounds to me like seeing how far we can bend the rules.

But, when I do this there’s the danger of being concerned only about my own personal freedom. Then it’s all about the letter of the regulations, rather than their spirit.

So let’s stick with the spirit of them for a moment.

The regulations are about protecting the whole community, so that when I restrict my freedoms, it helps me play my part in protecting other people and slowing down the spread of coronavirus.

Put it another way, it’s actually about Jesus’ words: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself”.

Those words are recited every time my church celebrates the Holy Communion. Here is the second great commandment, which goes alongside loving God. Think about it: a religious rule invented by a gloomy God to stop us having a good time? No. It’s about being other-centred, not self-centred; it’s about the health of the whole community and especially the neighbour that Jesus keeps reminding me about.

This week’s Pastor’s Pen is by Rev. Ron Elsdon.#


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