Over the past few weeks, the world has turned its full attention to the protein-thorned crown of COVID-19. It is rare to experience such a widespread global unease, in which we all find ourselves dwelling on the very same thing.
The news each day brings us stark figures – people are dying and by numbers so vast we cant easily comprehend. And not surprisingly people are scared. And we find ourselves stuck between the flippantly arrogant (“The coronavirus is just another flu”) and the fearfully paranoid (“We are on the brink of collapse”).
I suggest to you that it’s okay to be fearful—even if we are Christians. What should hopefully distinguish us is how we respond. Can we respond with love and compassion to those around us? Can our response return us to what the early pagans called the Christian Church “a religion for the sick”?
Have we got what it takes to care for the relatively elderly and the unwell – those we are called to pay closest attention too? Psalm 81 and Romans 15 make it clear that our call is to care for the vulnerable, those whom Jesus repeatedly identified with in the New Testament. But today we must do this within Government guidelines too, otherwise we stand the risk of making things worse not better.
So can you phone your friends and speak to them to check that they are ok; can you, if you are not in an at-risk category, offer to get essentials for your elderly neighbour next time you go out to get yourself supplies so that they dont have to go themselves; can you give money to the local food back so that they can continue to provide for those families who have nothing?
Perhaps most of all our Christian duty requires us to follow strictly the guidance we have been given and stay at home. However hard that is to comply with that will be the best way to respond with love and compassion and help the vulnerable and unwell get through this.
This will pass and more quickly if we play our part and then life can begin to be more normal again.
Currently the church is shut, and the doors are locked. But that doesn’t mean that the church has gone. Now is the time to rekindle your faith and pray. And pray for your friends your family, for your neighbours and for the vulnerable. Perhaps beginning with this simple prayer.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour, and to care for those in need
as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick, and to assure the isolated
of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake.
A Prayer booklet is available for those who wish to join me from their homes in praying at midday Monday- Thursday and on Saturday. Please contact us if you would like to receive a copy via email. Adapted Sunday service sheets are also available.
Please stay safe and every blessing
Revd Christine Spencer