Footprints daily reflection: 11 April
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Author: Rev Dr Liz Hughes
They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews.’
For some people this Saturday is primarily a day for time for relaxation, celebration and family fun – that in itself is an Easter blessing. For others, it may be a sacred time to reflect more on Christ’s death and burial waiting and praying for resurrection renewal. For most of us who are endeavouring to follow In Jesus’ footprints, I am guessing it may well be a bit of both.
In January I had the privilege of visiting Sierra Leone and seeing at first hand the work of Christian Aid and our partners. In many ways, theirs is a story of enduring the worst of suffering – first the civil war and then the Ebola crisis. Little did I know at the time that another virus would cause a health crisis much closer to my own home leading to restrictions on daily life and causing fear and pain for many. As the world faces the coronavirus pandemic, Christian Aid is using the lessons learned from the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone to respond effectively. Those countries with the weakest health systems and most vulnerable people will be worst affected. Recognising this, Christian Aid has launched an emergency appeal to help the poorest and most marginalised groups to access information and to provide them with hygiene items and sanitation improvements. Please consider donating online by clicking here: Coronavirus Emergency Appeal.
In Sierra Leone we visited the Inter-religious council who shared how as faith leaders during the Ebola crisis they gathered their people in churches and mosques all over the country and told them how important the laws of hygiene and infection control were. But more than that in the worst of circumstances they were there to show how even when the usual customs could not be followed burials could be conducted in a safe and dignified way.
Reading through a Christian Aid report on the Ebola crisis I came across this story:
“We visited the Holding Centre every day to give people hope. There were three tents; the first was called the 60:40 where they took people who might survive, the second was the 50:50 tent and the third was where they took people who they expected to die. There was one woman who was in a terrible condition in the third tent but we shouted to her, ‘Mariam, you’re not going to die,’ and we tried to encourage her. She was lying on the ground on a piece of sheeting and was too weak to speak or move but she was able to move her hand. We called the staff and demanded they put her on a mattress and treat her with dignity. We came each day to encourage her and one day we arrived and she wasn’t there and we were concerned but then we saw her in the 50:50 tent. She was released from the holding centre some days later.”
Faith leader in Bo District, Sierra Leone
Lord God we thank you that even in the toughest of circumstances people of faith can simply by their presence be a symbol of hope and new life. Lead me today though prayer and action and giving - to be that hope for others – following in Jesus’ footprints even in His darkest hour.
Rev Dr Liz Hughes is the Chair of Christian Aid Ireland. She is a retired minister of Whitehouse Presbyterian Church. Rev Hughes and her husband served as missionaries in churches in Jamaica from 1987-96, fuelling her special interest in Global Mission, and the learnings from the developing church context.