Things to do during Corona.
I am a classic introvert: so if someone tells me to self-isolate, I am likely to leap with joy. Well no, that would be far to extrovert; a smile of quiet satisfaction is more likely. Others will look on the prospect of being on their own with horror, and after more than a few days are likely to be climbing the walls with frustration. We react to isolation in different ways. Over the last few days, I have been ‘phoning around the church, to see how people are doing during the Covid-19 shut down. Some people are very, very busy: they are working from home, with all the frustrations of not being able to attend meets or speak to clients face-to-face, whilst juggling this with looking after children who can’t go to school. Others have nothing to do, and are feeling very, very bored. They have far too much time on their hands.
In Genesis 1, God creates everything, and with the physical world one of the things he creates is time. Thus time belongs to God; it is one of his gifts to us. Therefore we are responsible for using the time we have in a good way; we should never by our own choice be idle. Caring for our children, or doing a job well under adverse conditions, are good, God-honouring ways of using time. But for those who have had idleness forced upon them, here are some ideas of how to spend the time in way that honours God, and nourishes the soul.
- Care for others.
At a time like this, it is even more important that we look out for one another. We can’t meet physically, but we can still keep in touch. We can use telephone, or Skype, or Zoom. Call another member of the church to see how they are, and have a conversation. Or call an elderly neighbour, check that they are OK, and see if they need their shopping to be done for them. Of course, take the opportunity to share the Gospel.
Most of us struggle to find the time to pray. This may be the perfect opportunity to establish a discipline of daily prayer. Fix a time in the morning, and ideally in the evening as well. A quarter of an hour is enough to start with, half an hour even better. Have a Bible and a hymn book by your side. Sit in silence for a few moments, and then say “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Then read a Psalm, and pray it back to God. It may be a prayer, so pray it out aloud as your prayer. Or use it as a basis for your own prayer. Then pour out your heart to God your Father. Pray looking up, in praise and thanksgiving, look in, as you confess your sins, and looking out, as you pray for family, neighbours, and the world around you. Finish by saying the Lord’s Prayer, slowly and thoughtfully.
For more on praying the Psalms, I highly recommend the book God’s Prayer Program by T.M Moore, as well as Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Tim Keller, and A Praying Life by Paul Miller. Here are some videos on prayer that you may find helpful:
Later this week, there will be another blog post about praying as a family.
- Read the Bible.
I have yet to meet a Christian who doesn’t wish that they knew the Bible better. Now we have a wonderful opportunity to become better acquainted with it. The simplest way would be to resolve to spend half an hour or even an hour day sitting in an armchair, with a cup of tea or coffee, reading it. Start at Genesis 1:1, or Matthew 1:1, and read, (and think), until the time is up. Don’t worry about how far you get. If you do this, you may want to get a reader’s Bible, like one of these:
A reader’s Bible is one that has each page printed as a single column, with no chapter and verse numbers. It makes reading the Bible easier, more like reading a “normal” book. Many people have found that they transform their Bible reading.
Or you could use some Bible reading notes, that give you a reading, some brief thoughts on it, and some things to pray. I would recommend the Explore notes from the Good Book Company, which are also available as e-books, or as a smartphone app:
Others prefer to use a Bible Reading plan, which will take them through the Bible in one year, like this one: https://fivedaybiblereading.com/BibleReadingSchedule2020.pdf. Personally, I find this a little too fast, so I use this two-year plan: https://media.thegospelcoalition.org/static-blogs/tgc/files/2010/12/TwoYearBibleReadingPlan.pdf . Find the one that suits you.
- Listen to some good Christian teaching.
There is a lot of good stuff out there on the internet- and a lot of rubbish as well. So we need to be discerning. I always enjoyed listening to the teaching of John Piper at www.desiringgod.org. I don’t always agree with him, but I am always glad that I listened. For smart phones, listen to the Refnet app: https://refnet.fm/ This is a 24-hour on-line radio with a variety of teachers, interspersed with some beautiful classical music and hymns. Most of the teachers are associated with Ligonier Ministries. Ligonier provide a great variety of courses on all sorts of biblical and theological topics. Normally, one has to pay for these, but during the present crisis, as a gift to others, Ligonier has made them all available for free: https://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTTJRMFptWTVZV05qTnpVNCIsInQiOiIrZjRwOWJuTng0bFJ5aHBBUW5BN21GOHIwUjdNbThTUlU2RmorcTFxbUFIVlc0NnlIeGlZcGhvOFBKcG10czNubTRwXC9aUGxjWDdrbklOYkdwVWRVdVNDR011Q2YyUzBxNjFSaUZGR1lXMDNnYlJFT0doNmpUaEN2Qm9LMCtzangifQ%3D%3D . If you have ever wanted to go deep into what the Bible teaches, this is a wonderful opportunity. Depending on how long the Covid-19 crisis continues, we might be able to study one of these courses as a church group, with online discussion after watching the video.
At Christ Church, we often sing hymns of Keith and Kirstin Getty. Their website has videos of many of their hymns, and under “Conference”, links to videos of the “Sing” conference that they lead last year. What we sing in church is often a source of contention; the teaching here on that subject is very good, and gives a biblical base for it. https://www.gettymusic.com/ .
If you think that there are too many American accents here, search online for teaching from Konrad Mbewe of Kabata Baptist Church, Lusaka, Zambia. Or look at Gospel Reformation UK, (which includes teaching from Darren Moore, who spoke at our weekend away): https://www.gr-uk.org/ . Or in German, look at videos from the Evangelium21 Conference in Hamburg: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC__40_CUByoHGfjGOs_8-eg .
- And finally…
For pure pleasure, try this recording of The Well-Tempered Clavier, by JS Bach, played by Kimiko Ishizaka. The pianist joins in the discussion below, and comments on how playing the piano relates to her other discipline- as an Olympic weightlifter.
Stay faithful. Peace be with you.