Third Sunday after Trinity
Jeremiah 28.5–9, Romans 6.12–23, Matthew 10.40–42
I have seen several amusing memes on Facebook, and indeed the TV around folk putting weight on through this time of lockdown. Overeating, my love of food, my weight and consequently my health have long been a source of struggle in my life, so whilst they have made me smile I have also felt the emotion behind them.
Our passage from Romans refers to sin exercising “dominion” or control over our mortal bodies. verse 12……
I sometimes feel that I have no ‘control’ over my desire to eat food that I know in my head is not good for me but I will eat it anyway..I seem to ‘loose control’..but where is God in all this??
further on In verse 14 we read ‘sin will have no dominion over you , since you are not under the law but under grace’.
It is a difficult passage to get our heads around, but I am reminded of the verses from Matthew 22 verse 36-40 about the greatest commandments or laws, which includes ‘And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’
Jesus reminds his followers then and now that Love is at the centre our of relationship with Him, each other and ourselves.
As a Chaplain and Priest I have often had the privilege of speaking to folk at the darkest times of their lives. Sometimes they are struggling in relationships, feeling wronged by another and suffering as they feel they cannot forgive the other for the wrong done to them, struggling to love their neighbour. But this commandment puts that love for neighbour in a wider context…we will not be able to love our neighbour who has wronged us without first loving God and receiving His love…then loving and understanding ourselves and own reactions and then we can move towards loving our neighbour.
This lockdown has meant that I have not been able to run around caring for everyone else not having the excuse of no time to worry/love myself. I have had the enforced luxury of time to think and pray. I have had time and the support of husband and son to think carefully about what I eat, to shop carefully and not buy the sugary treats to have to hand when I am bored. The shops are no longer convenient and I was ordered by the government to do one hour’s exercise a day.
Strangely for me these boundaries, This order to STAY AT HOME has really helped me control my weight. The ‘law’ has changed the way we normally think and has helped me focus on working out strategies to help me be free from the control food has had over my life.
Paul, writing to the Romans, encourages them with the thought that the old system has gone and people need to adopt a new way of thinking about things. We are now not under law but under grace, therefore the power of sin over us has been broken and we can regain control.
When I wrote this reflection some 4 weeks ago we were still under the Covid Lockdown law…these laws are now being relaxed, Boris has said we must use good British Common Sense to stay alert, fight the virus save lives…I wonder will I slip back into my old ways of eating, my old ways of thinking…It would be so easy to…BUT we have Grace..God loves each one of us and he reminds us to love ourselves…lets cling on to that as the rules relax we ease out of lockdown I hope and pray that for each of us the way the rules of Covid19 have changed our outlook on life..the time we have had to think about the bigger questions of life and death. of loving neighbour and ourselves will continue to influence both our individual lives and our life as a society.
So one thing I am grateful for, in this most difficult of times, is the way the Gospel and Paul’s writing has helped me reframe the view I have of myself. I hope and pray that you too have found yourselves being blessed, drawing closer to God the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. Amen