Third Sunday after Trinity
“Anyone who gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of these….. will certainly receive a reward! “ Matthew 10:40-42, Good News Bible.
“In the past two days, with the confidence he has gained from this experience, he has tried to stand up and take a step unaided – this will be his next challenge.” The adoptive father of Tony Hudgell, aged 5.
When I was a prison chaplain, I was frequently reminded of how important small things could be in daily life when each day was very similar. A good book to read, matchstick models to make or a jigsaw puzzle to complete could really help a prisoner pass the time without getting so bored that trouble was likely. Having been on the wing when a riot broke out and being locked by the Senior Officer into a cell with a murderer (now reformed, thankfully!) for safety’s sake gave me a good insight into the wisdom of prisoners having something to occupy them. There were those who really appreciated having things to do although others would tear out pages from the book or remove the picture on all the jigsaw pieces and return a box of shapes so that it was useless. Nevertheless, the chaplaincy kept on giving out these things in the hope that some would benefit – and some did! Others did not and the consequences of restrictions and unresolved mental health issues have also, sadly, been seen this week in a Glaswegian hotel used for housing about 100 asylum seekers during the pandemic. Those concerns have been issues for some in lockdown, too, with a good daily routine and varied tasks to occupy mind and body being recommended for improving mental and physical health as the days pass in isolation or restriction.
It’s the case, too, with Tony Tudgwell, the brave boy who’s raised over a million pounds for the Evelina children’s hospital by walking 10k a day on crutches and prosthetic legs. His own had to be amputated when he was 41 days old due to terrible abuse inflicted by his birth parents and Tony was inspired by the efforts of Captain Tom, who raised over £30 million by walking in his garden. I was struck by the two extremes: a veteran now aged 100 and a young boy of 5, each doing something to help others when their ages and circumstances might have meant that they expected help from others. It was because they’d received that help in the past that they now wanted to say thank you and raise funds for the benefit of others. They are examples of some of the amazing things that have happened amidst the terrible suffering of the ongoing pandemic and part of the reward for both Tom and Tony has been the improvement in their own health as well as the financial support their efforts have received from those who admire their endeavour, courage and perseverance, simply by doing what they could: walking.
In the Gospel reading today, Jesus speaks of the reward of doing what can be done, even just by giving a drink of cold water to those who need it. Today, his words have to be seen in the light of the Covid-19 guidance and the water would have to be given and received in a safe way – but the crowds flocking to the beaches or wanting to celebrate Liverpool winning the Premier League title this week seem to have forgotten some of the restrictions still necessary as we begin to emerge from lockdown. Ministers and the NHS are said to be preparing for an increase in cases as risk is still present despite restrictions easing still further. As Captain Tom and Tony showed, we will also need endeavour, courage and perseverance as we face whatever lies ahead – but concentrating on the needs of others as well as ourselves and doing the simple things we can, rather than can’t, do in the situation could make a big difference, as they did.
Having made a difference for others as well as himself by raising such an astonishing amount of money for one so young, Tony’s adoptive dad says that taking a step unaided will be his next challenge. What will ours be?
Diocesan prayer of the week
Please pray for all in the prison, probation and asylum systems, where tensions continue to rise due to the Coronavirus pandemic – CB.
God our Saviour, we give thanks for freedom to express our beliefs, choose our path in life and participate in our communities. Open our eyes and hearts to the plight of all who do not, through law or circumstances, enjoy such liberty; but suffer persecution, abuse and oppression. Strengthen all efforts to overcome these persistent evils, that the whole human race may come to know and experience your loving care and perfect will.
Amen. (Canon Carol Wardman)
With my prayers,