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Thornbury Parish


Never Waste a Crisis

Evensong 22nd March - Readings Micah 7 and James 5.

Someone on the radio  said “NEVER WASTE A CRISIS’. ( NWAC ) It struck me as an unusual thing to say.It seemed to suggest that something clearly undesirable could be beneficial.I couldn’t get the sentence out of my mind.The sentence seemed to permeate all my thinking from the big geopolitical issues like Climate change to the everyday issues ( locking yourself out of the house ). Issues both current and past, big and small.

There is a tension between a global imperative not to waste food and the  actual food in our kitchen.

What does Never waste a Crisis mean in this  situation? It meant , in our case, using the ageing food in a fry-up and baking a Christmas cake in March!

.We didn’t waste this small crisis .We benefitted significantly from a good meal and  he thrill of the spicy aroma of baking Christmas Cake . It was the first time that we have cooked a Christmas cake so early. We have decided to decorate it for Easter and eat it then!

The principle of NWAC  extends to every crisis.

For example,Corrie ten Boom ,the Dutch harbourer of Jews in the 2nd WW, was put into a concentration camp with her sister. The Hut in which they were billeted was infested with fleas which their fervent prayers could not remove. A crisis of itching and discomfort. W hat did NWAC mean to Corrie and her sister? They chose to exploit the fact that the guards were reluctant to enter their Hut and  they were able to study the scriptures together. This encouraged and consoled the prisoners through their troubles.

We will be able to say that we will not have wasted the Coronavirus crisis if ( among other things ) we love our neighbours as ourselves  in practical action ; if we don’t buy out of fear and greed; if we know more and care more for our near neighbours; if we value more highly all those NHS and other public servants;  if we will have learned the value of our nurturing natural world; if we have more time to stand and stare; if we are more generous to those in need; if we see more clearly that we  live very interconnected lives both locally and internationally; if we understand the role which we all play in the global climate crisis and its consequences; if we continue good hygiene practices; if we shop more essentially than covetously; if we invest even further in the NHS; if we act more kindly with our rediscovered empathy, and continue to innovate to do things better with less harm to ourselves and our environment; and  if we are more attentive to the needs of the always isolated; and  apply technology to solve the problems of over-working clergy; if we learn to live and worship differently in our own Benefice situation.

Whilst looking forward to beneficial outcomes we can also gain from looking back at crisis’ of yesteryear  and see what we can learn from them

I have a relative in his 90’s who had his 21st Birthday on the beach at Normandy in the 2ndWW..A BIG crisis amongst many a wartime crisis.Those crisis’ produced numerous acts of ingenuity ( Mulberry  Floating Harbours ) genius ( Bletchley Park/decoding the Enigma machine ) self-sacrifice and…….

Our centuries-old reading from Micah starts with a cry of despair at the hopelessness of the national situation .No-one can be trusted and society is dysfunctional.

James warns of the consequences of a widening gap between the  poor and the rich and powerful; about wages due not being paid ;of the innocent made to suffer.

Both Micah and James are  still timely in their comments……BUT .. if we read on in both Micah  and James we find hope  and encouragement  to endure  and remember that God is for us he is full of mercy and compassion.God will ‘hear’ us and save us. He can turn darkness into light.

We are so often the cause of our suffering (‘ the earth will become a desert because of the wickedness of those who live on it “ - Micah.

Long ago Job went through crisis after crisis  and

He learned patience through his suffering and God provided abundantly for Job in the end.

Micah also sees a brighter future  for the nation when he writes “  the walls of the city will be rebuilt and the territory enlarged”.

We too will remember how the crisis of Joseph’s fake murder led to lives saved, eventual repentance and reconciliation ( and a very sing-along Musical ) ; we remember how , at a wedding in Cana,water for foot -washing became wine for sommeliers; how a Red Sea threatening death and destruction became a dry highway to freedom and how a cross led to a grave which could not hold its occupant. We have good reason to hope .

We all have good reasons to use the creativity which God has given us so that we will be able to look back on this Coronavirus crisis and see all the good things which will have come out of it and how we really did work to his praise and glory and we really did love our neighbour as ourselves.