30th August 2020
Captain Graham Bibby writes:
It’s the end of August and after a long and mostly hot summer we are about to embark on an autumn where we haven’t the foggiest how it’s going to look or turn out! Shops, eating and recreational places are trying to open up. Schools are going back this week. What about the church? We are trying hard to provide services and support but there are restrictions and we can safely say, it’s not what we are used to. Thank you all for your patience in all this because I sense people, generally, are getting more irritable and more despondent over decisions that have to be made and how it affects them; rather than happy with the progress we are making or being content that we are over the worst (hopefully).
My son has spent some time with us over the past week and, of course, we made use of the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme. We went into a restaurant one day and I couldn’t believe the attitude of one dad with his two young daughters standing in the queue in front of us. He was moaning and complaining about the couple of minutes he had to wait outside, arguing with the staff about the process of downloading an app to order and pay for his meal. He was getting money off, for goodness sake, but that wasn’t good enough! They sat on the table next to us and he would not let it drop - I am pleased to say he wasn’t a local.
Today’s society is a very pushy one – ‘my rights, my needs come first, and when I’ve got those sorted out, then I’ll think about you’. Putting others first often goes right against our ideas of fairness. Paul, here in his letter to the Romans, is talking about ‘selflessness’. Selflessness is more than doing good turns for others. Like generosity, it is a case of seeking out the needs of others, and meeting them, but selflessness demands that at times the needs of others take precedence over own own.
Paul is concerned that our lives should be loving and that we should be devoted to serving and sharing. If we sincerely love our brother and sister, then we will honour them above ourselves. We will put their needs, because we will consider them more important than ours. We will share fully in the joys and sorrows of others, with no thought of envy for their good fortune or feeling we don’t want to know about their grief, because it upsets us too much. We will be ‘happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep.’ Despite shyness, we will undertake tasks that strike fear in our hearts, because others need us to do them. Hardest of all, we will pray for those who oppose us, ridicule us or treat us unfairly, and we will ask God to bless them.
Jesus, as always, is our model for right behaviour. When he and the disciples, desperately tired and needing food and rest, went across the lake to a quiet place, they were faced with a vast crowd, eager to hear more teaching. Jesus’ heart went out to them in compassion. Setting aside his tiredness, he and the disciples ministered to the people. Selflessness is not a question of pretending our needs don’t exist, but of putting them to one side when we see the needs of others.