On this day in 1631 the priest and poet John Donne died. He is known especially for writing sonnets and love poetry but he also wrote much religious poetry too and served as Dean of S. Paul's Cathedral. In one famous work--"The Flea", likely written whilst he was still a student,--a man tries to seduce a woman using a rather unusual metaphor: both he and she have been bitten by the same flea and now their separate blood mingles inside the flea’s body.
During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are rightly increasingly concerned with environmental issues and the way that humanity has been treating the planet, some even saying that through this pandemic the Earth is giving us a warning or even getting revenge for what we have done. Such thoughts are not something John Donne was immune from either.
Even writing four hundred years ago, Donne seems all too aware of the inequality in how humanity treats the rest of creation. According to one commentator, Donne saw this 'two-dimensional treatment of animals, and…addressed what he saw as the inherent unfairness in perceiving them as strictly serving the interests of humans’. In one of his holy sonnets, he writes:
Why are we by all creatures waited on?
Why do the prodigal elements supply
Life and food to me, being more pure than I,
Simpler and further from corruption?
Why brook’st thou, ignorant horse, subjection?
Why dost thou, bull and boar, so sillily
Later in the poem, he goes on to reflect on this, and much like the unexpected comparison with the flea, compares this unequal treatment of animals by humans to Jesus’ untimely and cruel death on the cross at the hands of humanity:
But their Creator, whom sin, nor nature tied,
For us, His creatures, and His foes, hath died.
For us reading this today, as this natural calamity engulfs our planet and all living here, it raises many questions. Do we think humanity has taken its stewardship of the planet seriously enough? With Easter Sunday just two weeks away, what does the Easter story mean for us today? Let this be a time for us to reflect on these questions.
To end, a prayer for use today:
Most merciful God,
who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
delivered and saved the world:
grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross
we may triumph in the power of his victory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
 Potter, P. (2012, 12 December). Why Are We by All Creatures Waited on? Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2098-2099.
As I write this, we are reaching the end of the first week of the twelve or more of these 'social distancing' special measures to counter COVID-19 that the UK is currently experiencing.
Many of us continue to be separated from loved ones and friends and cannot go about the bustle of our lives as normal. And for many, there will be fears and worries about jobs, about those we know, about the survival of businesses, charities, churches and other organisations. And of course there are some who are suffering right now, who are afflicted and who are worried, either by the current crisis or other things in their lives.
This, more than ever, is an opportunity for us to take time to stop, to take stock and to reflect on our own lives.
Yesterday, Wesley's Chapel in London was the host of Radio 4's Sunday Worship (it can be found here for the next 28 days). The Methodist Church, located in central London, also broadcast a wonderful act of reflection yesterday evening filmed in Cornwall and led by Katherine Baxter (see the YouTube video below).
As we focus on the world around us, on the birds in the trees and the waves crashing on the beach in the Youtube video, it can be reminder to us to take inspiration from the world around us, to breath in the seeming calmness and peace. An opportunity to focus for a few moments not on our lives now and the uncertainty of the current virus situation, but we are invited instead to focus on the wonderful presence of God and to think about the future, how can we come out on the other side of this national crisis positively.
Take the opportunity in this short act of worship of just 18 minutes to reflect and to think.
God bless and all the best to all on this slightly overcast Monday morning.
Morning Worship for Sunday 29th March will be streamed online and lead by our Minister, the Reverend Andrew Emison. The service will start at 10am.
It can be accessed here: https://tinyurl.com/t95wj9n
Having to close our churches for public meeting and worship, means that we have to very quickly find new and innovative ways of communicating with each other and sharing in worship.
For some, this appears not to be a new experience, such as this virtual choir with their rendition of “In Christ Alone”:
Due to the COVID-19 situation, all public worship and activities are suspended.
We will be trying to update regularly this, our What's On page, with daily reflections to help us all to think and reflect from a Christian perspective wherever we find ourselves, and also to share an act of worship live on a Sunday morning!
During this time, the Methodist Church in Britain is providing a number of resources online for Methodists to continue to worship.
Online Worship Resources
The best place to find these online resources is by following this link:
A number of Methodist Churches around the country are also conducted acts of worship online. These include the following:
Wesley's Chapel in London who will live-stream from the chapel (the Minister lives on the premises):
Swan Bank Methodist Church in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, this worship will be studio based – with strict distancing rules being followed:
www.youtube.com/user/SwanBank and www.facebook.com/swanbank/
Methodist Central Hall Westminster:
In accordance with the advice from government, we must, with great sadness, suspend all public / collective acts of worship and all meetings and activities which involve meeting in groups either at chapel or elsewhere. This is effective immediately meaning that there will be no worship at Frodsham Methodist Church from this Sunday.
Full and ongoing information with regard to the position of the Methodist Church may be found at:
This is a sad day. Our story tells us that sad, dark days should also be days of anticipation and expectant hope. Over the coming days, we have the opportunity to innovate new ways of being together and of worshipping. Some of these ideas will involve technology for which some will be more enthusiastic than others. We must be mindful of those who cannot access such resources.
Rev'd. Andrew M. Emison
Check out our Calendar for a listing of all events.
Frodsham Methodist Church on YouTube here.
North Cheshire Circuit on YouTube here.
The reflections are written by members of our congregation.