Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Fog of War

Chatting through the general situation yesterday, the image of fog pressed itself powerfully on my mind.  It does seem as if everyone, from government downwards, is blundering about in a thick murk.  Objectives are unclear.  The very situation is unclear.  What is really happening?  What are we trying to do?

The Government prolongs a state in which normal human activity is criminalised.  There is growing evidence that this is doing great harm to society and to the health of individuals, and yet we press on with it.  Does anyone know why?  The stated reasons for introducing restrictions way back were to do with 'flattening the curve', ensuring the health service is not overwhelmed.  Those reasons seem to have gone by the wayside.  What are our objectives now?  It's all been swallowed up by fog.  It is hard to avoid the conclusion that HMG is lost in the cloud.

Of more desperate concern, for me at least, is that our Christian witness seems to have got lost in the fog.  We - who believe in a hope that goes beyond this life, who trust in a sovereign God - surely we ought to have something powerful to say in this situation?  But we proceed with such uncertainty.  I don't hear people speaking with assurance and authority on behalf of Christ.  it's like we're just not quite sure where we are or where we need to go.

I'm not talking about other people.  It's in my mind, the fog.  I wander through my days in a state of distraction, wondering what is really going on and where we really are.  I get stuff done, I talk to people, I write sermons.  But am I saying the right things?  What's the word for the moment?

I'm sure there are lots of potential causes for this feeling of being lost in a fog.  I am sure that at least one of them is spiritual.  We are in a spiritual battle, and I am quite sure that keeping us muddled is one of Satan's key ploys.  It's relatively easy right now.  We lack the key thing which allows us to see clearly: gathered worship.  When we come together as God's people, one of the things that happens is that we together lift up our hearts to the throne of heaven, where Christ is seated.  From that vantage point we see what is really going on.  The fog disperses as we sing the truth, as we pray the truth.  Taking the Holy Supper together orients us on the most important reality: that Christ has died and risen, that sin and death are vanquished.  We orient ourselves, locate ourselves in God's great plan of salvation.

In the absence of gathered worship - or even in the practice of gathered worship that is weakened and attenuated by restrictions and regulations - we are lost.

Send your light and your truth; let them lead me.
Let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling place.
Then I will come to the altar of God,
to God, my greatest joy.
I will praise you with the lyre,
God, my God.

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