Thought for the week – 02.04.20

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Jonah – the one who got swallowed by a whale, or was it a fish?

Too often the only discussion is around the individual character and whether the story is or isn’t literally true.

But what of Nineveh? Jonah eventually told them if they didn’t change their ways they would die. They did change their ways, they put on sackcloth and ashes, and to Jonah’s disgust they were saved. The Bible story ends with Jonah disgruntled and God asking him why he would not want all these people and animals to be saved.

‘God so loved the world.’ Across boundaries of religion, politics, race, class, gender, etc. Are we doing the modern equivalent of sackcloth and ashes but planning to go back to business as usual when this pandemic is over? I hope yes to the first and no to the second.

Of course we look forward to more freedom again (bearing in mind how little freedom many had before) but surely we now know that we can do things differently.

NHS workers are rightly praised to the full. Communities are pulling together in ways barely imaginable a few short weeks ago. Of course people need to work and earn money. But now we know the will is there to work differently if we believe we have to.

Less is being wasted. Interest in growing food has shot up. We need to find a new normal – not what we are living just now but not what went before either. Otherwise climate change, or another pandemic, will be worse than the present crisis.

Everyone agrees this is a key time but we have to genuinely ‘be in it together’ for the long term. What comes next is up to us.

Nineveh didn’t survive long term. Perhaps we can if we hold onto the amazing flowering of care and cooperation going on. ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done, ON EARTH as it is in heaven.’

I don’t believe God sent this crisis but I do believe God works through such a crisis to show us there is a better way. For now take care and stay safe.

Rev Liz Gibson, Isle of Mull.