Today's reflection comes from Sue Mansell, from her posts in the Tenby Observer
Today's readings are from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah chapter 51 verses 1 - 6, the New Testament Letter of Paul to the Romans chapter 12, verses 1 - 8 and from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 16 verses 13-20.
In recent months we have all found out what it is like to lose our freedom in the wake of this pandemic. The Israelites too knew what it was like to be denied their freedom when they were first enslaved in Babylon and they were now, during Jesus' lifetime, looking for their liberty once more this time from the tyranny of the Roman empire.
Jesus takes his disciples north to Caesarea Phillippi, the seat of Roman rule, the political centre of the region. Jesus was not avoiding the political situation of the day - far from it. Indeed, he asks those around Him who they think He is for they longed for a King, a strong leader, who would bring them liberty. Peter - the boldest one - answers Him saying, "You are the Messiah (the Anointed), the Son of the living God." Jesus tells him that he is correct and on this rock He will build His church and Peter will also be given the keys of heaven. This church is not one of buildings, but one of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
It was a sad day for us near the beginning of lockdown when we lost our elderly cat and it is only in the last few weeks that we have decided to have a new 'rescue' cat. It has taken time, patience and a good deal of love to get him settled into his new home. We know that in the near future we will have to make the decision to throw open the conservatory doors and let him out into his new kingdom. Despite the fact that he will then have freedom, we have to trust him that he will choose to return to us when we call him. In the same way, when God created us He gave us freedom to make choices for ourselves. The Father trusts that we will likewise decide to return to Him when He calls us to come into His kingdom through faith in His anointed Son, Jesus Christ.
Let us pray for those who seek the living God that they find freedom through faith. Also continue to pray for people's safety as they visit this area as well as for the businesses opening after the easing of the lockdown regulations; pray that people, particularly those who are visiting the county, will respect the countryside, beaches and the places they visit and that they will have a caring attitude. Be with those who are working to bring life back to gradual normality.
Continue to thank the Lord for the new ways in which churches in this locality, as well as the ministers/clergy, have been able to continue working. We should also pray for those who are still isolated and lonely in their homes to know the presence of the living God; give courage to those who once more begin to interact with others. May they have all they need and feel at peace in mind, body and spirit. May those who are ill also know the power of God to heal and restore that they may have new life.