A message from Bishop Peter:
A colleague of mine was in the supermarket today and overheard two people saying: ‘The problem is that no-one looks you in the eye anymore.’ That is a devastatingly sad comment on where we are at the moment. Because of anxiety and fear we feel we must step away from each other, keep to ourselves. While it is the right thing to do in a physical sense, there is a real cost to being isolated, especially for those who are vulnerable or for whom life is already difficult. I have written to the clergy and churches here in Somerset to encourage them to keep churches and chapels open so people can visit the Church during the day, to find a place of peace and calm, a place to reflect or to pray, and to discover the reassuring presence of God who promises he will be with us always, in all situations, in all circumstances. We are not alone.
There are of course things which we can also all do to help keep in touch with our family, friends and neighbours. For those with access to phones or the internet there are many ways in which we can contact people, check they are well and encourage and support those who may be struggling. From my mobile phone I have already ‘looked a number of people in the eye’ today and it was a joy to share laughter and hear stories of how they are coping. I may not be able to meet with them again face to face for a while, but we can keep in touch. We can also express our concern for others in many practical ways. These might include supporting local foodbanks, avoiding panic buying and sharing our time, our food and our love with other people. Sharing, generosity and trust are the qualities that will get us through these very difficult times.
We need to keep hopeful despite these very dark days which we are now walking through. On Sunday Christians around the country lit a candle in windows, where others could see it, as a reminder of the light of Christ that shines in the darkness of our world and into our lives. I shall continue to do that now and every evening and as I do it, I shall pray for those in need and suffering, for our wonderful NHS and those who work within the caring services, for all those on the front line in the battle against this terrible disease. Prayer is something we can all do.
Here is a prayer for you:
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
May the Lord bless you and all those for whom you love and pray.