Welcome to the first winter Monday morning this year. I pray that you are keeping well. For us in Melbourne, we are in the twelfth day of our fourth COVID-19 lockdown. For many, this lockdown is more debilitating than the past three because it adds on to the stress and pressures of the last three lockdowns.
May I encourage you to do three things.
First, do not give up. There is always a silver lining on the dark clouds you see.
Second, dwell on the positives. Feed you mind with healthy thoughts. We are much more blessed and fortunate than the majority of the people on earth. Count your blessings – as the title of a hymn suggests. Count your blessings, name them one by one. It will surprise you what the Lord has given you and done in your life.
Lastly, look up. Do what the Psalmists do. In their darkest despair, they look up to God.
Psalm 121 says, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
Let us now pray a prayer posted by our Cathedral on Facebook three days ago for those affected by the lockdown:
God our Father, from whom every family on earth takes its name, be with all those who are far from loved ones today. Ease their anxiety, soften their sadness, deepen their gratitude for one another, and remind us all of your love, from which neither height, nor depth, nor any other creature can separate us, in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
Prayer of the Week
Second Sunday After Pentecost
O Lord, from whom alone all good things come: grant that by your holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by your merciful guiding may perform them; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our Bible reading today is taken from 1 Timothy 6:6-10.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
One of the things that is distinctly lacking in people’s life during this one and a half year of pandemic is the feeling of contentment. Many people feel deeply frustrated, others feel anxious, many are uncertain, most are fearful, still others are depressed, countless are stressed, there would also be those who are angry… and the list can go on. If you watch the news on how the pandemic had impacted people’s lives, rarely would they have anything positive to say.
How then should we go about facing the reality of COVID-19 and living practically through this pandemic? One of the best solutions is contentment, which comes from God. I’m not talking about complacency. It is easy for people to be smug and complacent. They are the ones who are self-satisfied about the present and indifferent about the future.
Contentment is something different. It is the ability to not only make do but thrive in every situation. It is inner composure and a lack of anxiety. It is achieved not through self-effort nor earthly possessions. It is a condition of the heart and mind that is achieved with an understanding of God’s perspective, acceptance of God’s way and working together to achieve His will.
For too long, the world has intoxicated us into thinking that owing worldly possessions and gaining wealth brings contentment. But when one gets all the wealth one can lay one’s hands on, one is not contented because one just wants more and even more. The contentment that one seek through wealth is persistently elusive.
That is why the Bible advise us by saying, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” We can only be really contended when we truly realise that we have God our heavenly Father who is with us and looks after us in whatever situation we face. We are completely safe in His hands and protected in His plans when we have trusted Him with our lives and future. In this time of lockdown and pandemic. Let us learn to be contented with what we have on earth because of who we have in heaven.
Heavenly Father, grant us true contentment that comes from you. Acceptance of what each day brings, joy in you and not in things, tranquillity in storm or strife, serenity in all of life; that when you whisper, ‘Peace, be still,’ we’ll wait upon your perfect will, knowing we will are blessed by your love that only wants our best. O gracious God, help us see that we are meant to rest in you… and be contented. Amen.
The Morning Collect
Into your hands, O Lord, we commit ourselves this day. Give each of us a watchful, humble, and diligent spirit, that we may seek to know your will in all things, and when we know it, that we may perform it completely and gladly, to the honour and glory of your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God’s love surrounds you, God’s Spirit guides you, God’s whisper cheers you, God’s peace calms you, God’s shield protects you, God’s wisdom arms you,
wherever God may lead you. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.
Thank you for sharing this time with me. Let me know how you are doing practicing contentment from God. I very much look forward to be with you again next week. In the meantime, do good. Love outrageously. Enjoy life. Learn contentment. Praise God. Amen. Goodbye.
 St Paul’s Cathedral Prayer 4th June 2021
 1 Timothy 6:7-8.
 A prayer by BJ Hoff
 Watchful, Humble and Diligent Spirits Source: Gelasian Sacramentary. Source of this version: Freely modified from Prayers of the Early Church, ed. J. Manning Potts, The Upper Room, Nashville, Tennessee, © 1953 (Public domain in the U.S.)
 Copyright © John Birch, 2016