The Rockin' Rev April 2020
Fear! Worry! Panic! Hate!
With the current outbreak of The Coronavirus (COVID-19) and increasing cases of it outside of China, questions are circulating among the local churches similar to those that were asked at the time of the avian influenza outbreak back in 2017. Such questions include: should we continue to drink wine from a common cup during communion, or even stop sharing bread and wine altogether for the time being; should we shake hands with people who gather for collective worship; should our churches close their doors for fear of spreading infection?
The Coronavirus is now a daily news item. That being the case the danger is that fear could spread more rapidly than the virus. Stock markets throughout the world have plummeted; sales of disinfectant have soared. Sports fixtures have been cancelled, whole towns have been quarantined and worldwide trade is threatened. Fans awaiting the general release of the latest James Bond film “No Time To Die” scheduled for 2nd April will now have to wait till November after studio bosses undertook a “thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace”
I don’t know who first said, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, but I do know that you won’t find that phrase in the Bible. Ritual washings are practiced by many religions, but they usually signify spiritual cleansing, not physical sanitization. Piety is no substitute for hygiene, nor vice versa
What I do find in the Bible, however, are the words of Proverbs 24:10 which says, “If you are weak in a crisis, you are weak indeed”
In a time of crisis, the world needs strong and steady people. Worry and panic are counter-productive and accomplish nothing except weakness of heart and head. It’s been said that 90 percent of the things we worry or become panicked about never happen, and the other 10 percent are outside our control
As I watch the world react to this crisis, a stark reminder of our mortality, I have to remind myself repeatedly that it takes the same amount of energy to worry as it does to pray. One leads to panic, the other to peace. Prayer-infused confidence, compassion, and selflessness should mark every Christian’s response to the coronavirus
As for the people of China where the virus originated, the Bishop of Newcastle, Christine Hardman, tweeted a Sri Lankan poster, which shows the right Christian attitude. It says, “HATE THE VIRUS, NOT THE CHINESE. Let’s pray for them instead”
Washing your hands is good, sensible advice. But we also need to be on our guard against fear, worry, panic and hate
Rev Brian Hall
Vicar, St Andrew’s Church
as published by St Andrew's Church in the Gorleston Community Magazine
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