LOCKDOWN 3: 3/4
Updated: Jan 9
HOPES AND PRAYERS IN THE PANDEMIC
The former and late Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, said on one occasion;
“A nation is strong when it cares for the weak;
it becomes rich when it cares for the poor;
it become as invulnerable when it cares about the vulnerable.”
It has been a remarkable sign of hope, how those who are themselves vulnerable, have brought hope to others in loving their neighbour at risk. The pandemic has highlighted great social inequalities, discrimination and environmental degradation.
One of the most-touching items on the news during Lockdown 2 was to witness a Parish Priest and a fellow Pastor ministering in a deprived part of Burnley, amongst people who had so much to lose and little to gain in the pandemic. The BBC turned this into two substantial national news items. Both men were shown in tears, overwhelmed firstly by the extent of the suffering they found themselves amongst, then secondly by the generosity of those who had been moved by this overt Christian and humanitarian work of the church in Burnley.
Father Alex Frost, vicar at Burnley St Matthew’s and his friend Pastor Mick Fleming from the Church on the Streets Ministry in the town were featured on BBC News, raising awareness about food poverty during the present crisis in Burnley. There were some deeply moving stories highlighted in the pieces, and it was moving to witness the emotions from those working tirelessly to help people who are really struggling at this time.
It is those who reach out, a counter-cultural sign in our times, by crossing divides, boundaries and suspicions to embrace the other in their needs, that build lifegiving relationships and vibrant alternatives to the mainstream versions of the good life.
Pope Francis reminds us: “Hope is bold; it looks beyond personal convenience, the petty securities and compensations which limit our horizon, and it opens us up to grand ideals that make life more beautiful and worthwhile.’ “Let us continue, then, on this path of hope.” (Fratelli Tutti, section 55)
We are a people of hope; we need to declare and model good news in these difficult times. Our Calling is to respond in love and service to the needs of our communities. We should not be afraid, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
PRAYERS ABOUT THE OUTBREAK Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us to love our neighbour, and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you. In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick, and to assure the isolated of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake. Amen.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE ILL God of compassion, be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation. In their loneliness, be their consolation; in their anxiety, be their hope; in their darkness, be their light; through him who suffered alone on the cross, but reigns with you in glory, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Merciful God, we entrust to your tender care those who are ill or in pain, knowing that whenever danger threatens your everlasting arms are there to hold them safe. Comfort and heal them and restore them to health and strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
FOR HOSPITAL STAFF AND MEDICAL RESEARCHERS Gracious God, give skill, sympathy and resilience to all who are caring for the sick, and your wisdom to those searching for a cure. Strengthen them with your Spirit, that through their work many will be restored to health; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
FROM ONE WHO IS ILL OR ISOLATED O God, help me to trust you, help me to know that you are with me, help me to believe that nothing can separate me from your love revealed in Jesus our Lord. Amen.
WE PRAY FOR OUR CHURCH in this time of uncertainty. For those who are worried about attending worship. For those needing to make decisions in order to care for all. For those who will feel more isolated by not being able to attend. Grant us your wisdom, Lord. Nothing will separate us from your love;
help us turn our eyes, hearts and minds to you. Amen