DAY 110: Wednesday 8 July
Good morning everyone – here’s the promised mid-week email….
At the start of the pandemic crisis in the UK, the slogan introduced in March was Stay at Home / Protect the NHS / Save Lives. Then in May, a new slogan was adopted – Stay Alert / Control the Virus / Save Lives.
The instruction to Stay at Home seemed to have the desired effect not only in helping to bring down the infection rate but also resulting in reduced traffic and noise and air pollution levels. Maybe it’s my age but I quite enjoyed the calm and quiet of those days, talking across quiet streets to neighbours we’d not previously had a conversation with.
Now since 4 July, the media is speaking with people who have been so desperate to get back to the pubs and cafes – I don’t envy them, rather I feel sorry that they want to live for such shallow experiences. (yep…I’m an old fuddy duddy). And desperate to book a package holiday? Many of these people have just enjoyed 12 weeks of Government-paid holiday with good weather whilst furloughed, and now they are desperate to sit on a Spanish beach for 2 weeks!
From ‘Stay at Home’ through ‘Stay Alert’ the message today as well as keeping a safe distance is ‘Wash your Hands’. Now I confess I’m not the best in remembering to do this as often as I should, but thankfully I have installed in our home a very effective reminder machine – it’s not Alexa, it’s my lovely wife! Every time I return with shopping, or bringing the bins back from the kerbside, or picking up the mail or a parcel, it’s ‘have you washed your hands?’
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the advice has been to regularly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Initially there was a suggestion to wash whilst singing ‘Happy Birthday’ but that went out of fashion and was replaced with other songs such as ‘Stayin’ Alive’ or ‘Jolene’.
Then the NHS produced a video particularly aimed at children >>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9VjeIWLnEg
A recent study across the top 50 developed nations looked at a sample 6000 people from each nation and asked about regular handwashing practice using soap and water and especially after visiting public toilets. The results showed that Saudi Arabia had the highest conformity rate of 97 percent; the United States had dropped 10 percentage points over the past decade and is only around 70 percent, whilst China has the lowest rate of 23 percent.
Hand washing is not only for physical health and cleanliness, in many religions it is a symbolic ritual. Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism and Islam all mandate the washing of hands before and after every meal and Islamic teaching requires followers to wash at least 5 times a day before and after praying.
Whilst this is symbolically a religious act, it also does mean that those who do strictly follow this Islamic practice seem to have a lower risk of infection and disease. Islamic teaching also says that where clean water is not available, then clean dry dust or sand can be used instead. Interestingly modern scientific study shows that rubbing your hands with clean fine sand or dust has almost the same effectiveness in getting rid of germs and parasites as washing with soap and water. Jewish teaching and practice about ritual handwashing is very similar, which is hardly surprising given both religions trace back to Abraham.
Jesus raised eyebrows and questions from the Pharisees as recorded in three of the Gospels. They observed that both Jesus and his disciples did not always observe the strict Jewish hand washing ritual, but their questioning was not about concerns for health or hygiene but rather to attack Jesus for undermining the absolute religious authority of the Pharisees.
As Jesus met with his disciples for the Last Supper, he shocked them by wrapping a servant’s towel around him and washing their feet. This was in absolute contrast to the Pharisees intolerant insistence on keeping the law: this was adopting the humility of servanthood. Jesus knew what was about to happen to him just hours later and yet he didn’t dominate the conversation around the table with his problems, he wanted to practically demonstrate a loving servant-heart to his friends.
John 13:14-15 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
We also use the term ‘wash my hands’ to indicate the end of a relationship, or an arrangement, usually as a last resort when our patience is exhausted and we’re not able or prepared to continue. You will remember that Pilate washed his hands at the trial of Jesus indicating he wanted nothing more to do with the accusations brought by the Jewish religious leaders even though he stated he could not accept the evidence against Jesus but nonetheless handed him over to be executed.
Let us be for ever thankful that God does not ‘wash his hands’ of a stubborn, rebellious, sinful humanity and his grace and mercy is there through Christ to ‘wash away the stink of our sinful nature’.
HYMNALONG for today is an old Gospel hymn originally written by Robert Lowry around 150 years ago. This hymn was featured in the informal recording of Karen playing cello for Good Friday, but for this video is being sung by a virtual choir. >>> Nothing but the Blood
- We had a brief visit yesterday from Vera’s grandson Richard who said Vera seemed to be improving again. The drip has been removed and she’s also off the painkillers.
- Trisha is still in hospital and expecting a procedure on Thursday
MAKE YOU SMILE:
- The guy who invented hand sanitiser must be rubbing his hands together right now
- Yesterday, I was washing the car with my son. He said: ‘dad, can’t you just use a sponge?’
- Since everybody started washing their hands more, the peanuts at the bar seem to have lost their taste
- Now that everyone is washing their hands thoroughly, can we find a virus that would make people park properly?
- Wouldn’t it be nice if we could put ourselves in the tumble dryer for 10 minutes and come out wrinkle free…. and three sizes smaller?
Have a good day and we’ll be in touch again for our virtual service next Sunday morning