‘Comfort, comfort my people, says your God…. “Here is your God! See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.’
The spread of the Coronavirus is obviously a great cause for concern and we are all called to act wisely and responsibly. In the light of the present situation we wish as a church to respond in a manner which is both spiritual and practical. There are four good principles which should guide our attitudes and actions.
- Be trusting
It was at a time of disturbing national crisis that the word of God came to his people through Isaiah. God declares that he will be their comfort- the one who will provide consoling strength. This includes the reassuring knowledge that he is sovereign over all, ‘ruling with a mighty arm.’ He is in control. He also promises his presence to care and guide his people like a shepherd with gentle tenderness. We know this prophecy has been fulfilled in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. It therefore behoves us as Christians not to panic or become overly anxious, but to have a quiet trust in the one who works ‘all things to the good of those who love him’. As believers we can humbly point others to such a Saviour.
- Be informed
There is much in the tabloids and internet which is not helpful. It would be wise to pay attention to updates provided by the government and department of health. You may also find the CDC website informative- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Be sensible
Wash your hands and wash them frequently and thoroughly, for a minimum of 20 seconds using soap and warm water. There is no substitute for this. While alcohol-based hand sanitizers can kill bacteria, they have not been shown to be adequate against COVID-19 or other viruses. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. If you have symptoms of a cough, disease, or a fever within the last 24 hours, please stay at home. It is better to be safe than sorry. While in church we would discourage the shaking of hands, a verbal greeting should suffice.
There is then the matter of Holy Communion. During the present crisis (which hopefully will not last long) we will suspend our normal service of communion and instead have a special service whereby the institution of the Lord’s Supper will be read out and there will be a short period of quiet reflection and prayer whereby we can ‘feed on the Lord Jesus in our hearts by faith’. This means that as a fellowship we still ‘proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’ and draw on the benefits of his death without using the bread and the wine.
- Be caring
Do be aware of those who may need special help at this time, such as those who because of self-isolation can’t get their shopping. You may be able to help them yourselves or as a church we might be able to offer help. If so please do contact the church office.
Finally here is a prayer you might wish to use:
Almighty God, our strong tower of defence in time of trouble: We offer you praise and heartfelt thanks for our deliverance from the dangers which lately surrounded us and for your gracious gift of peace. We confess that your goodness alone has preserved us; and we ask you still to continue your mercies toward us, that we may always know and acknowledge you as our Saviour and mighty Deliverer; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Yours friend and minister,