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A Message In The Time of Coronavirus...

We have had to cancel one or more coming church services following the advice of the Synod (further notice will be given in time), and we might not even have an Easter Service at church, but Easter itself cannot be cancelled whatever may come. Hope in our Christian faith cannot be denied. Limited social interaction, in terms of physical contact, public gatherings, even self-isolation, may well be part of our “wilderness experience” and our Lenten journey this year.

But, as our Moderator writes to the churches:

“We can face uncertainty with faith. The people of God in the Hebrew Scriptures found their existence as God’s own people tested by, ultimately reinforced by, their time in the wilderness. God’s love and care is as sure for us as for them – we may not see the “fire and cloudy pillar” but we sing of it (in the hymn “Guide me O thou great Redeemer). Jesus has promised I will be with you always and although we may have to celebrate Easter in our homes, the truth of the resurrection of Jesus from death is undimished by whatever we may live through.”

Indeed. Yet, how can we practice our faith in these changed circumstances? How can we keep in touch with our fellowship and help them in practical ways? These are important and challenging questions. We need to find answers to them. For some time we might have to miss meetings with our friends in our buildings (though the premises need regular checking and maintaining), but we won’t have to miss our fellowship in a wider sense. Please make sure our church members and church attached friends are aware of our prayers said for them, of access to online devotions, e.g. URC’s Daily Devotions, (also available on Facebook) virtual worship, use Skype or any other means of the Internet for regular contact. Also, we have to make sure church giving is maintained during the period of temporary suspension.

It is possible that, strangely enough, the absence of church services for a while will be a great testimony to the presence of God in our care for our neighbours.

Finally, let me share a prayer with you written by Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the Church of Scotland:

Lord, we pray for this pandemic spreading across our world,
remembering all who have lost loved ones,
and praying for those seriously ill at this time.
We pray for doctors and nurses and all in the caring professions
and those working behind the scenes
testing samples, confirming results, giving information to patients.
We uphold others trying to understand this virus better,
working to create an effective remedy.

We pray for our Government,
as they work with the best medical advice,
to guide us on how we should respond
and what action we should take.
May this crisis bring out the best in us, not the worst.
Help us to live by faith and not by fear;
to build bridges not barriers,
and to resist all who would speak ill of any other group.

Help us to find ways of keeping in touch and offering reassurance
to those with underlying health issues;
for any who feel particularly vulnerable
or in danger at present.

As the virus spreads ....

We remember those:
who cannot visit loved ones in locked-down care homes;
for the elderly whose social contacts have been severely curtailed;
help us to find creative ways of keeping in touch,
of assuring them they are not forgotten or ignored.
May our congregation find new ways of living through this time.
May we not forget our faith, but draw strength from it.

Strengthen us, by your Spirit, so that:
we may carry on our lives as best as we are able,
looking out for others,
showing love in action,
being faithful in prayer,
and bringing encouragement, hope and peace;
always trusting in you,
our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen

Yours in Christ, John