As soon as the lock-down was announced, pop star Madonna stated that Covid-19, was the “great equaliser”. She went on to say, “it doesn’t care about how rich you are, how famous you are, how funny you are, how smart you are, where you live, how old you are, or what amazing stories you can tell.” And guess where the ‘material girl’ was photographed for this particular press release? That’s right, naked in a bath tub, sprinkled with petals in the middle of a palatial marble bathroom!
The reason that I share this, is that only yesterday I received an invitation to speak at Grace Gospel Church in Bangalore. Given this is a church we have a long-standing relationship with, there is nothing unusual about their request. However, at this time, nothing is as it was. Therefore, it appears my messages will be pre-recorded, with pauses sufficient for translators to interject their own words. The last time I was in Bangalore, the church had around six-thousand members. However, given that many in the church belong to the Dalit community (the lowest in the caste system), I know these messages will reach a much smaller constituency. The reasons are obvious. These wonderful people don’t have access to the internet. Many of them live in temporary accommodation and without permanent work, they usually survive on a hand to mouth basis. However, given the strict lock-down announced by the Indian authorities, I suspect that many may now fear malnutrition over and above Covid-19. The church leadership are of course finding new and creative ways to support the church. These include food stations (where permitted), telephone call centres and hopefully a radio station in order to communicate.
So given the circumstances faced by some in Bangalore, along with many more around the world, it is evident that Covid-19 is not such a “great equaliser”. However, the thing that may shock you, is this. That in the same way we may see Madonna’s estimated half a billion pound fortune beyond our imagination, so some of our brothers and sisters around the world see our wealth, security and health provision equally beyond theirs. Of course Madonna is correct that each and every one of us are threatened by this appalling virus. We therefore have a real responsibility to protect ourselves, others and the NHS. Yet, when the pandemic is over, the statistics will undoubtedly reveal that it was the poor who were hit the hardest. Each of us then have a moral and spiritual responsibility to support where we can those less privileged than us. We also must ensure, that despite our own struggles, that we are daily thankful for God’s daily goodness and provision for us.
Let me leave you with the wonderful words of Paul who reminds us, ‘Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.’ (Colossians 2:7)
Every blessing, Gareth