Day two – no touching

With the crucifix, place photos of family, friends, places you’ve visited.  Some flowers perhaps, or images of nature/creation.

Give thanks for this new day

Creator, Life-giver.

You love the world so much that,

in Jesus, you promise to be with us

till the end of time.

I am grateful that your presence continues

for we are in a time of trouble, as an

out-of-control virus threatens your world and its people.

Thank you for being with us during another day

of social distancing and uncertainty.

Guide our minds and hearts as a remedy is sought.

May the successful outcome bring us

Closer to one another and to you.

One of the warnings given in efforts to stop the spreading of coronavirus is to avoid unnecessary touching.  The virus survives in the afterglow of our touch, making the washing hands and the wiping of doorknob, bannister, laptop, lift button, important weapons in the fight.  How terrible to be told not to touch, to hug, to kiss, and to “socially distance” yourself by standing at least a metre from another person.

As water is essential for life, touching is essential for life to thrive.  Touching connects not only bodies but also hearts.  I was very touched by your words, we say.  And, please keep in touch.  So many of Jesus’ miracles came through his touch, and the woman who merely touched the hem of his garment found herself cured.

Today’s prayer time invites reflection on the gift of touch.  At a time when we are cautioned against touching, giving ourselves space to take a deeper look at how and why we need contact with one another, can bring fresh insights and new purpose to the way we communicate.

The Gospel according to John records six significant gifts coming from the public ministry of Jesus: the gift of Wine at Cana (ch.2), the gift of Living Water to the woman he met at the well (ch.4), the gift of Healing to the disabled man who had no one else to help him (ch.5), the gift of Food to the crowd (ch.6), the gift of Sight to the man born blind (ch.8), the gift of Life to his friend, Lazarus (ch.11).  Each gift involves an encounter with others.  While they each relate to one or more of our five senses (smell, taste, touch, sight and hearing), they all relate to touch of one kind or another.

  • Read and re-read one of the above chapters.  Observe the connections between Jesus and the person/people involved, especially his non-physical touching.
  • Look at the photos in your prayer space.  In this time of prayer, “touch” the people and places, using your heart and mind.  “Embrace” them in your prayer.

Without touch there is no real physical connection.  The other five senses can be stimulated from a distance, but touch requires closeness, intimacy, and is never a one-way communication.  This is what is missing from our personal lives during the coronavirus crisis.  The tragedy is that not being able to touch another person, I can find my life – as the writer Joy Cowley puts it – restricted to a small world of one.

Pray this Aotearoa Psalm: The Human Race

Who was it who said that competition was a good idea?

Who reckoned it was important to be first, best, biggest, richest,

fastest, brightest, top of the class?

Not Jesus, that’s for sure.

Oh, he had his chance in the desert.

All the temptations given him were a push for self-promotion.

He turned them down flat.

He knew that the secret of happiness

lay in making others happy,

in cooperation rather than competition,

in helping another unwrap her gift,

in listening to a brother’s song.

Pursuit of excellence is part of growth and important in our lives,

but that has got nothing to do

with standing on others to increase our stature,

or leaving others behind in order to get out front.

Isn’t it better to share the pleasures of all those around us

than to be restricted

to a small world on one?

Because that’s the trouble with winning:

it leaves us standing on our own.

In fact, winning can be so lonely,

that often it feels like losing.

[Joy Cowley, Aotearoa Psalms, 1989, Psalm 29]


Scripture Meditation

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.  And be thankful.  [Colossians 3:12-15]

  • Stay with this reading for 5-10 minutes
  • The Aotearoa Psalm warns against selfishness and greed.  Now that you are isolated from others, even perhaps from those you greatly love, consider the way your touch affects others.  Is it in any way selfish or controlling?  How does it stack up against St Paul’s wardrobe of compassion, kindness, etc.
  • What do you find in the scripture passage that you would like to develop / strengthen in your personal relationships when you re-enter society?

Close this prayer time with personal praise and thanks for the gift of touch.

Additional reading

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