DAY 15: Thursday 2 April CLEAN HANDS
Good day to everyone – today’s email is rather later than normal because up until last evening I had very little inspiration for today’s theme.
First thing this morning I was sent with a long list to do the weekly grocery shopping and having waited in an orderly queue for 20 minutes outside the store, managed to find 95% of what I had been sent for. When I arrived home from what I considered to have been a successful expedition, I was greeted with ‘WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE YOU TOUCH ANYTHING!’
Now that is of course exactly in accordance with the official Government instructions -
Stay at home
Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
Wash your hands as soon as you get home
Do not meet others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
So that gave me the idea for a theme of today’s email – ‘CLEAN HANDS’.
Isaiah 1:16-18 - So wash your hands. Make yourselves clean. Get your evil actions out of my sight! Stop doing what is wrong! Learn to do what is right! Treat people fairly. Give hope to those who are beaten down. Cheer them up. Stand up for bereaved children and widows. Come on, let’s talk more about this says the LORD. Even though your sins are deep red, they shall be white as snow.
So, who is the LORD addressing through the prophet Isaiah? Who were these filthy evil people? Perhaps surprisingly it was the religious ones. Just a few verses earlier in Isaiah 1, there are words like “There isn’t a healthy spot on your body” (v.6); ‘Your country is deserted and your food is being taken by strangers from right in front of you’ (v.7); ‘I’ve had enough of your offerings and sacrifices’ (v.11). The LORD then goes on to say, your religious acts mean nothing unless you are willing to change your attitude and follow me. Then you will eat of the best food in the land.
The washing of hands was symbolic in those days and indeed for many religious people today it demonstrates an attitude of repentance when coming into the presence of a holy God. In our culture too, we still use expressions like ‘caught red-handed’ from when a cattle thief is caught with the blood still on his hands and we still use the phrase when someone is caught committing an unlawful act. We also use the term ‘I’m washing my hands of it’ meaning (like Pontius Pilate) ‘I don’t want anything more to do with it (or him or her).
We may consider ourselves to be good people because we go to church regularly and sing the worship songs enthusiastically. But if we hold a grudge against someone or we can’t forgive our brother or sister because of something said in the past, then how can we expect to enjoy all the blessings? During these days of self-isolation, we should examine ourselves to see if there is anything that needs confessing before God or forgiving someone else.
Luke 6:37 - “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
Psalm 24:3-4 - Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
Joy Phillips emailed following an earlier email conversation about how wild our hairstyles will be looking after 12 weeks shut indoors!
· I am mainly staying indoors except to have a look round the garden and get some fresh air. Tell Karen not to worry about your hair you can have a ponytail like me and a few other folk at the Chapel, instead of being known as the friendly church we’ll be known as the ponytail friendly church, it would be quite good to see us all walking into the Sunday service with our ponytails swinging in the morning sunshine, I look forward to it.
God bless you both and love Joy.
We haven’t received any other news since yesterday, so let’s finish with a Hymnalong in which the words of the chorus include – ‘All our sins are washed away and we can live forever’…
Wesley & Karen