Though the pandemic has been undeniably awful in lots of ways, there have been some silver linings, and one of these has been the innumerable acts of kindness performed by normal people every day.
I wonder what you’ve seen or done yourself through this season that shares God’s love and kindness in the world.
Have you collected shopping or prescriptions for someone who was self-isolating? Maybe checked in with a neighbour who might feel lonely? Shared encouragement with someone exhausted after their NHS shift or their home-schooling marathon?
These things can seem small, but they mean a lot. Often one act of kindness inspires another; kindness truly is contagious.
It can be easy to see only the bigger things; such as the amazing effort of the Marlow Meals initiative, or the herculean efforts behind the roll out of the Covid vaccination programme; and to think that our small, personal efforts don’t make much difference.
This is to miss the point that all of these seemingly big things are done by real people too, doing their bit, choosing to be kind and to serve others. As Rend Collective would say:
“We are your Church, we are the hope on earth!”
The biggest and best things that the Church does are simply individuals working together as part of the Body of Christ – the Church.
Working physically together has a bunch of logistical challenges at the moment, so I want to spend the rest of this article thinking about some of the things we can do individually, at whatever time suits us, to show God’s kindness to the world:
Get in touch
Why not call / send a card or message to someone. You could do this for a different person every day or every week, just to let them know you’re thinking of them. If you like you could send them a Bible verse too.
Over the years I’ve had fun sending anonymous gifts to people, either in the post or by leaving them on the doorstep. You could make cupcakes / sweets / other edibles, or send flowers. Remember, it’s the thought rather than the price that counts, and you’ll never have a better excuse to ring the doorbell and run away!
Sometimes we feel helpless when others are struggling, but the truth is that we can bring people to God in prayer any time we like. This is an amazing privilege! Tips from the Prayer Course for praying regularly for something are:
Pay it forward
Pay for a coffee for someone else behind you in the queue. Some cafes allow you to pay for a ‘suspended’ coffee that they can then give away to someone who otherwise couldn’t afford one. This works for other things too.
Find something good to encourage; it could be an email someone’s written, a well cooked meal, a good music practice, a thoughtful gesture – the list is endless. Get into the habit of noticing when people have done something well, and encouraging them about it. (NB – this one is particularly good if you are more usually inclined to noticing the problems or flaws).
If you can afford to, consider gifting money. I’ve been on both ends of this, and it is fun to do and can be a real blessing. Often God will prompt you to give money to someone at just the right time. Of course, there are loads of ways to be generous; an easy one is to buy some extra items in your grocery shop for the foodbank.
Watch your words
Be careful with how you share opinions and feedback, especially when not in person. Our words are powerful and have the power to hurt or heal (see James 3).
Say thank you
Thank your postie, rubbish collector, doctor, teacher, vicar, mum, delivery driver… this one works well with ‘send treats’ (see above!) Often we forget to thank people that serve us faithfully in all sorts of ways, try not to let this happen and remember to say Thank You!
Love the planet
Consider what you could do to show kindness to the planet. Pick up litter; recycle what you can; reuse where possible; turn off your engine when you’re not moving; reduce your meat consumption; make the most of the natural light; consider making a bird feeder / hedgehog house / bug hotel.
Bless others by making time for them. As we start to come out of Lockdown, a lot of people will only just be beginning to process the trauma of the last year. Ask people if they are doing OK, and make time to hear the real answer. Make sure they know that when they are ready to talk – you are ready to listen.
This is by no means an exhaustive list: you’ll have some great ideas too, and I’d love to hear them.
It’s also not a tick list and not meant to make anyone feel guilty; you don’t have to do them all, and certainly not all at once!
Maybe start the day by asking God – what can I do today to bless someone and show your kindness? Then see what comes to mind. Let me know how you get on.
This article, written by Gill Taylor, featured in the Easter 2021 edition of The Bridge – the magazine for All Saints’ Church in Marlow. Pick up your free copy in church or download it here.