Brothers and Sisters,
I love the 1650 metrical version of Psalm 121
I to the hills will lift my eyes,
From whence doth come mine aid.
My safety cometh from the Lord
Who heaven and earth hath made.
Here is a video of it being sung in the old St Peters – with some great photography of Scotlands mountains..(brings on the homesickness)…
The only problem is that it can give the impression that we get our help from the mountains – when in reality it is stating the opposite. I look to the mountains – where can I get my help from? The answer is only the Lord.
In the current Covid crisis I find it really interesting where people look to for hope. Some are looking for scientists to provide a vaccine. Others have a somewhat bizarre trusts in government or police. I suspect a few still look to self important celebrities and a few may even look to religious figures – although it appears to me that the religious leaders in the West are just largely a baptized version of the secular progressive mindset. Some will look to the hills and nature for inspiration. I have just finished reading Julia Baird’s Phosphorescence which largely goes this latter route – as well as seeking the light within.
I can empathise with the nature approach the most. On Saturday we did a 12 km bushwalk through Lane Cove National Park. It wasn’t the easiest walk in the world (my legs are still suffering!) but it was stunningly beautiful (see the slideshow below) . Such beauty lifts one’s spirits and does indeed cause us to look upwards. But it’s not enough.
I feel that we are enormously privileged in Australia – the level of new cases has dropped to less than 50 per day in the whole country. There are only 80 people in ICU with Covid 19 and over half the 6,000 cases have already recovered. And yet the economy is largely shut down, the social distancing measures are beginning to bite and there is genuine concern that this cannot go on too much longer. It seems as though either way people are going to suffer and die.
What I hear from back home in the UK and from elsewhere in the world such as the US, Italy and Spain, causes great concern. This virus is exposing the huge gaps within the 24/7 chain supply system in the globalized world – not least it means that many nurses and doctors in the UK are seeking to help people, without the proper protection.
So at Easter I listened to a lot of sermons – most of them (even from evangelicals) were little more than cliché ridden pep talks. But there were exceptions – Kanishka Raefel’s from St Andrews Cathedral Sydney (broadcast on mainstream TV) was excellent. And this from Andrew was thrilling….a sermon that barely mentioned Covid 19 and yet offered the antidote for the hopelessness and fear that so many feel.
So we head into another week. I enjoy the discipline of doing the ‘Call to Prayer’ prayer notes which you can subscribe to here. And also I enjoy doing The Panic Room with Steve….feel free to join us each weekday…here is today’s episode…looking at Dyngus Monday….
Hope you have a great week and that we will all be past the peak of this soon. Most of all I pray you will know the presence and peace of Christ.
Letter from Australia – 36 – Sea Swimming