“Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4.32
I do believe that in these difficult times, kindness and understanding of others is more important than ever. The letter from St Paul to the Ephesians speaks of building others up, according to their needs. That is, not according to our own. We must all try to better understand others. There will always be situations which irritate us, or that make us downright cross, that is human nature, but, at the centre of that situation there will be inevitably be a person, or people who are probably working hard to do their very best.
This is the same within all walks of life, but within any Christian community, these people will be aiming to serve Christ to the best of their understanding and ability.
I have been dismayed over the past few days at the levels of judgement and criticism I’ve observed from one Christian to another, both at a national and at a more local level. This is not what Christ asks of us. Not now, not ever.
I believe that every church, every organisation, every individual member of clergy and all who are supporting them, are doing their very best under the most trying and difficult of circumstances. I also believe that any guidance we are being given comes also in the best of faith. We must take it and apply it to the best of our ability and belief within our circumstances.
As we move into February, we celebrate Candlemas – the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. It is a beautiful service of light at the beginning of a dark month and it signifies the end of Christmas and Epiphany. Churches are traditionally lit with candlelight as we recall the beautiful words of Simeon: The Nunc Dimittis, which includes the lines
‘Mine eyes have seen thy salvation;
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles
and to be the glory of thy people Israel’
Simeon had waited such a long time to see Christ and He recognised Him in the form of this young child. He saw in Him the light that was for all people, not just for some, but for all.
As we move forward into 2021, let us hold onto that light that has been given to us in grace.
Let it shine with love and kindness from our eyes in every dealing with one another, let it glow within our hearts and minds and govern our thoughts and our words and actions. Let us always look to encourage and support one another at every level.
We are still in such difficult circumstances and will probably be so, for some time to come, but I pray that as Christians we might all remain Christ centred, kind, tender hearted, realising that everyone is doing what they can with the best of intentions in the most trying of times and let us always be the first to forgive, as we are forgiven.