This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength..." Isaiah 30. 15
Being on holiday has been so refreshing. For obvious reasons I have not roamed far. I have not boarded an airplane, nor darkened the doors of a restaurant. I haven't been to church or toured around a museum or art-gallery. But I have enjoyed a different pace of life, spent time with Annice and, occasionally, been granted an audience with our children. I have received and visited family and, most poignantly, spent a final long weekend at the home in Lewis of my late parents-in-law. A bharrachd air sin, there was all that time for reading and praying...
God's reminder through Isaiah that our status and effectiveness are found in our relationship with him rather than in the potency of our own abilities, is cautionary - because the verse continues: "... but you would have none of it". There follows a prophetic word about the disastrous consequences of making this mistake. So "trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..." as the teacher has it in Proverbs 3. 5. Holidays remind us of that, when we realise that we may have stopped - but the world hasn't!
For all that, I am glad to be back. Why? Because all that repentance, rest, quietness and trust have renewed my enthusiasm for the part God is calling me to play in his plans and purposes. And I have missed the fellowship of church and neighbours and those I relate to at a distance. Perhaps a twinge of guilt nagged me for taking time off in the midst of an emergency! But the challenges do not appear to have gone away, so there is plenty to get stuck into now that I'm back...
When I started my holiday it felt like we were beginning to emerge from lockdown. On return, the news seems full of foreboding reports about second spikes and the re-imposition of restrictions. Yet there is a huge appetite for a return to normality or, at least, getting on with whatever the "new normal" is going to look like. And that is where I am inclined to begin, or resume.
I am less inclined to consider Coronavirus as simply an unforeseen disaster which has sprung out of nowhere to spoil our fun and which must therefore be conquered and departed from. My personal conviction is that it is the reaping of a whirlwind which we, the human race, have created and that it amounts to a global "wake-up call". Whatever else it becomes, this "new normal" must be significantly different to what went before or, as the saying goes, "we ain't seen nothing yet".
Repentance would seem like an appropriate place to begin. And then taking seriously the threat of climate change, which is far greater even than Covid 19. Issues of justice, fairness and compassion follow swiftly and urgently. And especially so for people of faith, who recognise that before we can expect to reap the harvest of righteousness in the next life, we need to do the sacrificial work of witness and service in this life.