18th March, 2020
The way in which the nation is responding to the Coronavirus is changing from day to day. Government guidance is that from next week, all our members who are over 70 should restrict their movements and basically stay indoors. Yesterday the Methodist Church advised that all public worship should cease from now, including weekday services and all meetings.
For the foreseeable future, all our preachers can take a break.
We are however able to open our churches for private prayer. On Sunday, I will open Chapel Street from 9.30-11.00 for private prayer for people who are not in vulnerable categories and who will weigh the relatively small risk of contagion against the spiritual benefits. Chairs will be spaced out.
We all need to work together to provide pastoral care to those who are going to have to ‘stay indoors’. I know that there are already lots of support networks involving families, friends, neighbours and church visitors. I also think we need to encourage our isolated ‘shut-ins’ to ring us and tell us if they are OK, or if they need help. Can I encourage maximum networking, for mutual encouragement, prayer, help and just cheerful conversation? Watch out particularly for those not on the internet.
We can also use all electronic means to communicate the Gospel. I shall try and preach a sermon (in private) which will be available on this website each Sunday. You will be able to find greater preachers on the internet, and the Methodist Church is providing lots of material for worshipping at home.
All our members who give their offerings in cash or envelopes are encouraged to save them up over the coming weeks and then bring them when we can open again; or if they are able, to set up a standing order so that some money is still coming in.
Can I encourage you to actually pray for protection against this virus? Our nation, and indeed the human species is suffering a major shock, a loss of confidence in its technology and its power to control the earth. There are huge opportunities for sharing the Good News with people who are desperate for hope. Let us not hide away spiritually just because our buildings are closed. Let us give a Christian lead in all our conversations; that we are confident in God to get us through. Let us spread calm, and be positive to counteract media-driven panic, witnessing to the living hope we have in Jesus. Let us live out what we always say we believe. The joy of the Lord is our strength!
With blessings and good wishes,
Published at 20:20 on 18 March 2020