Saturday, 22 August 2009

Pearls before swine

'Flu pandemic closes church'

I haven't seen that headline yet but I guess it will happen. And it's set me thinking. In our church we have begun to think about how we share communion- that is how we practice the Lord's supper or Holy Communion or breaking of bread or whatever other phrase you care to use-and all because of pandemic flu. It seems that there is lots of advice to the effect that we should not use a common cup, nor share one loaf. I think that's shame. And for a couple of reasons at least.

There is just something especially meaningful about all drinking from the same cup-it sort of emphasises the democracy of the gospel. All one in Christ Jesus (as the Keswick motto has it) no matter what social status, experience of being a believer or role within the church. We are in it together, we are the family of God.

But secondly I cannot deny that it all seems a bit weak and cowardly. Of course tragically some people have died of the pandemic flu (although it has thus far been much less potent than predicted and the British Government has been criticised for it's over reaction and enthusiasm for prescribing Tamiflu by the World Health Organisation as reported in this weeks BMJ). But it just seems as if we Christians in the West are soft. Whilst fellow believers in Muslim countries face harassment and worse, we join them in 'sharing in the sufferings of Christ' by worrying over whether we might catch swine flu from our brother in Christ. It's not exactly the persecution Paul had in mind when he wrote to Timothy that, everyone who wants to be live a godly life in Christ Cesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3.12).

Maybe we just love life too much. it just seems ironic that we who have faith in Christ and have such a hope for a new heaven and new earth are so minutely anxious about death. OK common sense is needed-stay away from the service if you have a fever, or if you are in a precarious medical state-but for the rest of us? 'Gird up you loins', I say,

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