The Church of England has responded to government’s latest rules on social distancing by closing its churches entirely even for public prayer. The rules are sensible and we all realise that they will save lives.
Christ teaches us to gather regularly as His Body the Church to celebrate the sacraments. It is sad that throughout the history of Christianity in this country we have never closed the doors of churches. Our modern understanding of how disease is transmitted is partly responsible for what is happening something that was not known in the past when plagues struck. But it is also founded on the teaching of Christ to love our neighbour as ourselves. It is the love of neighbour that requires us to sacrifice meeting in church for the foreseeable future. One day this virus will pass and we will be able to worship together again.
We continue to pray for those who are isolated, for the sick and suffering, for the anxious and afraid, those whose incomes and livelihoods are at risk and to pray for all those working on the front line in the NHS and other public services.
We believe in a God who is with us at all times and in all circumstance. He is not an absentee God but one who is Emmanuel which means God with us. He shares in our joys, he shares in our sorrows. He is with you now wherever you may be. He is with you in sickness and in health. Praise be His most Holy Name.
In all that is happening, in the challenges and worries in the days and weeks ahead let us hold one another in prayer and let us join our voices to that of the Psalmist who wrote:
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved,
And though the mountains tremble at the heart of the sea;
Though the waters rage and swell
And though the mountains quake at the towering seas.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. From Psalm 46
With love and, as always, the assurance of my prayers.