Call the Midwife is a BBC programme now completed its 9th series based on the true memoirs of Jennifer Worth, a midwife in the East End of London from the 1950s. If you have not watched the series or want to watch again I commend it to you. Watch with a heart open to the messages of grace, love, sorrow, sacrifice, confession, forgiveness, redemption and hope. The series gives us a fascinating historical journey through developments in medicine, culture and other national and international developments. Beginning just after the creation of the NHS, it charts a variety of developments including pain medication development, issues of poverty after the baby boom, immigration, caring for the terminally ill, midwifery in prisons, the introduction of the contraceptive pill, domestic violence, disability, industrial accidents, racism, death, family relationships, unemployment and much more.
Each week in lockdown as we witness millions clapping for NHS and frontline workers some of the scenes from Call the Midwife challenge us afresh to ask what has really changed? We still have huge inequality between the rich and poor in health, housing, education and access to services. We lift up an NHS that perhaps we were too anaesthetised against the power of our existence as humans to engage with local and national politics, particularly in our willingness to vote, to ensure the NHS was well funded and supported for the times when we most rely on it.
And yet, amongst the common stories of difficulty that remain in our society and lives today, we see in each episode the life changing impact of the nuns and midwives who offer care, love, non-judgemental listening and action created by the frustration they experience. Jennifer Worth as she arrives in London at the beginning of the first episode is seen looking wide eyed at the challenges around her as we witness her starting a chapter of her life that she did not expect or ask for. She begins to serve with the gifts she has, to do what she can in a place that feels alien, dark and at times hopeless. But into this comes love. She learns from the nuns an unswerving attitude of grace and unconditional love and through that love, lives are transformed.
The love that we receive in Jesus from God through the Holy Spirit is a transforming love. The Spirit of truth opens our eyes to the inequalities of the world, the difficulties people face that altogether seem unending and too big to stop or make any real difference. But through the everyday lives of ordinary people like you, with the Holy Spirit, transformation happens. God's love breaks into the bleakest of places and brings about change. It brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, meekness, faith and self-control. Love is never beaten. But as we stay in our homes we must not stop looking out or stop listening for God's prompting to love unconditionally. In fact this might be the time to start. This could be your opportunity to take time to ask God who and what it is you are really putting your trust in. Who you are turning to, who you are caring for? The problems of the 1950's and 1960's have not disappeared. The life changing NHS strains but currently survives. As the world begins to move again you have choices to make. What do you not want to go back to? What do you want to turn away from? What is the new thing you want to do? Who will you turn to? And how will what you do share the love of God in transforming society for everyone, how will you fight for transformation for the poor?
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