Comment by Harborough churches: Enjoy the freedoms as they return - and make the most of those things that are really important
Every week, the Harborough churches write for the Harborough Mail. This week, it is the turn of the Rev Stephen Haward, Minister at Market Harborough Congregational Church
Viewpoint by Rev Stephen Haward
Did you ever read Treasure Island? That is where we meet poor Ben Gunn. Marooned by his shipmates, Gunn survives for three years on such food as he can gather for himself, but his ‘heart is sore’ for the things he cannot have.
‘Well many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese - toasted, mostly - and woke up again, and here I were.’
We have all been reminded this past year that there is more to life than just eating enough calories to keep going. Like Ben Gunn, our hearts have been ‘sore’ for unattainable freedoms and comforts. Now hugs are back and so (in a sense) are we, gradually picking up one freedom after another.
For some, these things have come too late. Before the pandemic, a friend of mine was visiting his wife in her care home every day.
Now he can visit again, but sadly she no longer recognises him. The long interruption to their routine seems to have hastened her deterioration. Not all dreams come true and nothing can now compensate them for the precious moments they have lost.
Faith in God makes a real difference to me in this situation. I have someone to praise and thank for each life-affirming freedom I enjoy. I hope I shall not take any of them for granted: the freedom to sit in a café and chat; the freedom to stand in church and sing my heart out; the freedom to visit friends or family in other countries. I will thank God for each one as it becomes possible, and ask his help in using it in the best possible way.
I have a nagging feeling also that someone is telling me, ‘I told you so’. There is a saying in what Christians call the Old Testament. Jesus must have heard it many times when he was a child growing up in Nazareth. Maybe it was also quoted if sometimes there was not enough food for the family meal. Later, there came a moment in the wilderness where he used it to declare his oneness with the will of God.
The saying is this, ‘Man does not live by bread alone’. Just roll that saying around a bit in your mind, like a golf-ball loose in the boot of the car. ‘People do not live by bread alone’.
Like Ben Gunn, we now know what it is to be sore in heart for the things that make life really worth living. Perhaps we have also learned something about appreciating them more fully.
‘Lord, help me to remember the things I have learned through this past year, and to be thankful, and to use my freedoms well. Amen.’
By Rev Stephen Haward, Minister at Market Harborough Congregational Church