Some Things Never Change

Photo by mabi2000 on Flickr CC BY-SA-2.0

During this worldwide crisis, many of us are concerned about the changes that are being wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. We wonder what the world will look like once we emerge from the lockdowns.

Will life truly return to the way it was before? Will there be thousands of small businesses that will never reopen? Will we ever be able to gather in large crowds like we did in the past? Will the way we “do life” have changed permanently because of this pandemic?

It’s at times like these that we need something that never changes, much like conifers. During the winter, when deciduous trees are bare, I’m thankful for coniferous trees. These loyal friends, like the spruces, pines and firs, still have their mantle of green, which they’ll keep year-round. These silent sentinels might not be flashy, but we can count on them not to change.

God’s character is like that, too.

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Season of Stillness

Empty cafe in Italy
Photo by Peter H. on Pixabay

The lockdowns associated with the coronavirus pandemic have produced some unexpected results in the natural world.

With fewer vehicles and industrial machines operating, noise pollution has been reduced so dramatically that seismologists can hear sounds from inside the planet that they couldn’t detect previously.

In cities, reduced traffic noise is allowing people to hear birdsong, the chatter of squirrels, and the chirping of crickets like never before. People have been surprised to discover that they can now hear the flapping of birds’ wings as they pass overhead.

A quieter environment is probably also allowing animals to hear each other better. City birds usually have to sing more loudly than their country cousins to make themselves heard above the urban cacophony: perhaps their mates and rivals can hear them more easily now. With a reduction in ship traffic, marine mammals might also be finding that they can contact each other with greater ease now that there is less “acoustic smog” in the oceans.

If we can hear the creation better during the lockdowns, and creation can hear itself better, can we hear our Creator better?

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What Lions Guard Your Door?

New York City’s library lions, “Patience” and “Fortitude”
Photo by Dave and Margie Hill on flickr cc by-sa 2.0

For over a century, two marble lions have guarded the main branch of the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan. These majestic stone creatures flank the entrance to the building, keeping careful watch over all who enter.

During the 1930s the library lions were officially named “Patience” and “Fortitude” by then-mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. He felt that those names embodied the qualities that New Yorkers would need to survive the Great Depression of that era.

If ever there was a time when New Yorkers (and indeed all of us) again need patience and fortitude, it’s during the COVID-19 crisis. New York has been struck particularly hard by this pandemic, but they are pulling through in large part thanks to the selfless health care workers who have done their utmost to guard the health and welfare of those under their care.

We still need guardians, don’t we? Particularly during times like these.

What “lions” guard your door?

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The Ultimate Treasure Hunt

Little girl gathering Easter eggs
Public Domain Picture from Pixabay

Each Easter when I was a girl, my Dad used to create elaborate Easter egg hunts for me. They weren’t the regular type of Easter egg hunt, however, where little egg-shaped chocolate treats are scattered around the house or yard and it was just a matter of wandering around and finding them.

No, nothing was that simple with my Dad. Instead, there was one big treat for me to find, like a large chocolate Easter bunny. And I couldn’t just wander the house searching for it, either.

I had to solve a fiendishly clever riddle my Dad had devised, which would lead me to look under a certain object in the house. There I’d find another riddle which I had to solve in order to find the next hidden clue. I’d be led from one clue to another, and finally to the prize itself.

Sometimes I think the way God leads us is a little like this.

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The Best Worst Day

1895 lithograph of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”
Photo by Steven Zucker on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA-2.0

There are some dates in history which stand out for being associated with awful events. Each year, when the calendar rolls around to these dates, we shudder in horror when we recall what happened.

Here are a few “worst days in history” that come to mind:

September 11th, 2001: the deadly World Trade Centre terrorist attacks in New York.

August 6, 1945: the dropping of a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

June 28, 1914: the day Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated, igniting the horrific First World War which killed tens of millions.

December 26, 2004: the Boxing Day tsunami which killed hundreds of thousands.

Some horrible dates in history have specific terms associated with them, such as:

December 7, 1941: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a date which President Roosevelt said would “live in infamy.”

October 29, 1929: called “Black Tuesday,” the worst day of a stock market crash which would send the world spiralling into the Great Depression.

What term is associated with the horrible day Jesus Christ was crucified?

Good. It’s called Good Friday.

But why?

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Comfort Food for the Soul

Are you reaching for comfort food during the pandemic?
Photo of Supreme Pizza by Wikipedia, Public Domain

As hundreds of millions of us are shut in our homes, nervously monitoring the news for the latest updates on the coronavirus, we’re also dealing with an unexpected side effect of this pandemic:

Many of us are gaining weight as we turn to comfort foods to calm us.

This is perfectly understandable. We’re in a global crisis right now, with the news getting worse day by day in some countries. Who would blame us for reaching for cookies, ice cream, fried foods or nostalgic casseroles to console us, even if they can only do so temporarily?

But is there a more lasting source of comfort, preferably one that’s low in fat and calories?

Yes, there is…

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Solidarity With the Persecuted Church

Photo by Imagens Cristas on Flickr
CC BY-NC 2.0

For those of us who are regular church-goers, the cessation of regular worship gatherings due to the coronavirus has been wrenching.

With churches shuttered temporarily, the children’s and youth activities, Bible studies, and men’s and women’s groups that they housed have had to close down along with them. Sure, some churches have switched to live-streamed Sunday services and online gatherings, but we’re not able to meet in person to worship or fellowship like we used to.

We probably feel a little hard done by, don’t we?

But there’s one group of Christians for whom these sorts of restrictions have long been an all too familiar reality:

The Persecuted Church.

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Shelter in the Best Place

An Impregnable Fortress: Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, England
Photo by Ryan Lea on Flickr CC BY-2.0

During the past week hundreds of millions of people around the globe have been told to “shelter in place,” a phrase normally reserved for natural disasters or violent attacks. In today’s context, it means to stay at home for a certain length of time to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Good advice. But what if it’s your heart that needs shelter? Where can you go when you need protection from emotional distress?

The Bible speaks of a shelter that believers can turn to when events threaten to overwhelm us:

The arms of our loving God.

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Your Finest Hour

Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister during World War II
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Thanks to COVID-19, we’re living in conditions that are almost unprecedented for many of us. Large swathes of the globe are living under the types of restrictions that many countries haven’t seen since the Second World War.

Students of history might be seeing additional parallels between the current pandemic and conditions during World War II. They might be calling to mind right now Winston Churchill’s famous line from a speech he delivered to the UK House of Commons in June of 1940, shortly after he became Prime Minister:

“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say: ‘This was their finest hour.’ ”

Amid the news reports of hoarding and panic-buying, there are also some uplifting examples of people rising to the occasion and showing care and kindness to others.

Allow me to share with you some accounts of what may be some people’s “finest hour”:

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We Still Have So Much

A little boy chasing bubbles: almost as cute as my neighbour’s son!
Photo by Beat Kung on Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0

The news these days is pretty depressing, isn’t it?

Each day brings reports of the latest closures due to the coronavirus threat. We’re seeing schools shut down, stores and workplaces shuttered, and restrictions on travel and gathering in groups. More and more aspects of our normal lives are being taken away from us.

Feeling discouraged after watching the news on TV yesterday, I went into the kitchen to make dinner. Out of the corner of my eye, I suddenly saw something shiny pass by the window. First one shimmery orb, then dozens whizzed by. I peered out to discover what on earth they were.

What I saw quickly dispelled my negative thoughts:

Bubbles.

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