Warmest greetings in these strange times. The cessation of worship does not mean an end to the church’s presence or a cessation of our care for the parish.
First of all, we are keen to reach out to those who might feel lonely and isolated. To those who are having to self-isolate or who may feel struck down with a sense of overwhelming fear, know this: you have our concern, solidarity, prayer and love. And of course, our genuine offer of practical help where it may be needed. Please just reach out to us if we can help in any way – especially with picking up groceries or prescriptions, or for a listening ear.
The contact details of the priests are:
Revd Dr Mark Scarlata: firstname.lastname@example.org
Revd Dr Matthias Grebe: email@example.com
The Archbishops have written to all the clergy urging us to demonstrate our local presence as best we can. Churches will not be locked as far as possible. And this Sunday the Archbishops have asked that we have a day of prayer nationally.
“Wherever you are this Sunday please do join in this day of prayer and action and remember especially those who are sick or anxious, and all involved in our Health Service. As one action, we are calling on everyone to place a lighted candle in their window at 7.00 p.m. as a sign of solidarity and hope that can never be extinguished.”
A prayer for this troubled time:
Jesus Christ, you travelled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.
Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.
Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbours from helping one another.
Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders. Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.
Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.
Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace.
Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.
Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.
Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.
Jesus Christ, heal us.
For those who would like to think and ponder further:
An hour’s fascinating lecture given in 2014 by
Dr Rowan Williams
Lord Williams of Oystermouth
‘Plagues and Metaphor’
LANGUAGE about ‘plague’ rather than – say – ‘epidemic’ introduces elements of moral and theological interpretation into our view of a situation: plague is something ‘inflicted’, and is conceived against the background of certain kinds of biblical and classical narratives (the plagues of Egypt, Oedipus at Thebes, etc.). While this is by no means defunct (with some very unpleasant recent applications) the overall climate has changed. But it is still possible to reach for this language as a metaphorical structure – Camus, Garcia Marquez – which highlights aspects of the moral urgencies and ambiguities of a situation. The lecture looks at both the background usage and its modern transformations so as to draw out some thoughts on the nature of human limits and human responsibilities.