As I was thinking and praying about the current situation we are all facing at the moment, I was reminded of how different we all are, how wonderfully individual and unique each one of us is. Yet, at the same time, we all carry the amazing image of God within us too and as such we should do all we can to look after ourselves. This is going to be a long road, so we do need to accept that how we look after ourselves, and how we look after our ‘neighbours’, in these days is going to be very important indeed. In fact, this need to look after ourselves is going to become more important as the days and weeks go by.

And a phrase popped into my head as I considered and prayed this all through, and it was this ‘James, what feeds your soul’. In that moment, as I was exploring the day ahead and what needed to be done, who needed to be called, what emails needed to be sent, I was reminded to think about what I needed. This is not in a selfish way, but to recognise that I have people who rely on me, and if I don’t look after myself, how can I reassure, support and look after those who God calls me to support. My family, you the church, and those with whom I have connections outside the church all form part of this list of people and God reminds me that to be available means to place me first sometimes… something that I have not been good at in the last week.

So why and how should we do this? Mark 12:30 reminds us that we need to

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

But in order to do this all three of these things, things that make us who are, need to be in tip-top condition… and this is where ‘feeding your soul’ comes in…it is the reminder that we need to do what is good for us. Some of us need space, some of us need company, some us need music, some need books, some need to get out and walk… we are all different… but what makes us the same is that we need to look after our hearts (that’s physical well-being), our soul (that’s our spiritual well-being) and our minds (that’s emotional well-being and intellectual stimulus). All three need to be attended to, like a well-cared for garden. You may have amazing borders, but the garden will be useless if the grass is a metre high and full of brambles. You get my point.

So today I encourage you to think about how to keep fit in these days. For those that may want to try the Pilates class that runs at church, it is now online (I can supply details if you want). You may need to go for a walk. For those that are working from home do not slouch over laptops, move away from the screen every 40 minutes (for at least 3 minutes). Ride your bike, move around the house – go on… get moving.

Our soul needs nourishment too, so for those who are no longer communing spend some time with the bible, with God, with a good Christian book that speaks to you. Join online prayer groups (we have one at the church so let me know if you’re interested), pray, dance and praise like King David did. Use some of the extra time you have found yourselves with to connect with God – it is a gift.

Our minds need nourishment too. I know that a lot more TV will be watched now, but also read a book if that’s your thing, dig out that hobby you’ve been meaning to do for a while, brush up a skill you have, start Sudoku or crosswords. Do whatever you need to do to, as Poirot would say, get the ‘little grey cells’ moving.

Look after yourselves in all areas of your life, there is only ever going to be one of you and you’re precious.

Until tomorrow, stay blessed, Pastor James