When the weeping of the nations fills our hearts with holy dread, when a virus rings with pity those who cannot reach their dead, God is in our consternation, weeping by each sufferer’s bed. Distanced, lacking human comfort, no more in a mother’s arms, fearful faces peer through visors watching, even breathing harms, knowing only humane kindness brings the peace that heals, disarms. God bring strength in human weakness, give us grace that we might see through the mists of mortal blindness how to live through agony, how through quiet compassion, silence, we might mark our empathy. Andrew Pratt 31/12/2020 Words © 2021 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England. http://www.stainer.co.uk. Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd. Tune: PICARDY Metre: 87 87 87
So Covid-19 has mutated.
If only we had taken note of Richard Dawkins instead of lambasting him for his poor understanding of theology we might have learnt something to our advantage from his book, ‘The Selfish Gene’. This mutation was bound to happen. Mutations aren’t weird but natural and normal
All living things, however complex or simple, have a built in mechanism for self-preservation. Humans run away from lions, fish swim in shoals to save all of them being eaten by dolphins.
The Covid-19 virus was affected by our avoidance strategies. Relatively speaking it is a simple organism, a complex chemical. It can change, and does change, regularly, as a matter of course. It doesn’t think about this. It just happens. We can’t predict how it will change, but what is certain is it will.
Changes which are beneficial to the virus will enable its survival. Genes survive if they are ‘selfish’ – though there is no intention implied in this.
We have slowed the virus’s transmission by simple processes of washing our hands, social distancing and wearing masks.
A change which enables the virus to transmit more effectively is beneficial to it. Until we have effective vaccination we need to maintain actions which lessen that transmission. These actions will need to be kept in place until the R number is consistently below one to the point where the virus is no longer transmitted and/or an effective, long-term vaccination has been administered to everyone and test and trace is applied to anyone entering each country. Unless we are to exist as a totally isolated country all of this has to be applied with totality internationally.
This has massive economic and social consequences which we need to address to enable ALL people to participate in these measures and to survive. The process is not indefinite, but it is inevitably long-term. Our willingness to participate in this process is, for Christians, an indication of our love of our neighbours. Survival is predicated on our willingness to make personal and corporate sacrifices.
Without them the virus wins.
BBC News – Independent SAGE representative suggests whole of UK should be on Tier 4 (2200hrs 22/12/2020)
Here we will meet to praise, with hesitation,
while conscious of our frailty and fear.
Here we will meet for prayer and meditation,
God, Spirit, ever-present, come, draw near.
Here we will raise our eyes to things above us,
while needy people break our sense of peace.
We recognise, O God, that you still love us,
but also those who clamour for release.
Here we will meet in unity of purpose,
enable us to find you in our hearts,
that we might be alive, not just a carcass,
a living, thriving body where love starts.
Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2014 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Metre: 11 10 11 10
Tunes: HIGHWOOD; O PERFECT LOVE
As published on worship Cloud (www.worshipcloud.com)
Prof Whitty (Chief Medical Officer for England) said today (July 31st 2020) “The idea that we can open up everything and keep the virus under control is clearly wrong,”. We have probably gone as far as we can in opening up Society. It makes sense. We have reduced the constraints with which we have learnt to live. The virus is now reaching a growing number of people. This suggests that the release of lockdown is enabling this. So we need to lockdown harder than we are doing ‘at present’, but all the Government is suggesting is not freeing us up as quickly ‘at the moment’.
In the Church many are still trying to return to ‘normal’ – to things as they were. Instead, in society and in the church, we need to recognise that we are in this for the long run and to adapt to a different situation for this ‘long run’.
That already requires changes to our behaviour and practices that have never before been needed or envisaged. So what are we going to do, and what are we going to stop doing? And love of our neighbour as well as preservation of ourselves, demands that we act quickly. Churches are not very good at swift change. Sociologically they are predicated on maintaining and promulgating the institution rather than on loving the individual.
Through every fighting moment and each breath,
another burdened person nearer death;
and now we sing our prayer that life might last,
this time might be consigned, be something past.
Great God, we cling to hope when all seems lost,
we never thought that love would hold such cost;
and now our loving feels more like a shroud
to wrap the one we we love: we cry out loud!
How long, O God, must suffering prolong
this tension, is lament so very wrong?
Or is our understanding of your care
corrupt, or incomplete, bereft or bare?
Amid our swirling agony and doubt,
God hold us till the sands of time run out;
when light has gone, and darkness hovers round,
we wait the dawning of Love’s solid ground.
Written on 26th May after watching Clive Myrie (BBC reporter) in a ward with people dying of COVID-19.
Words © 2020 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Tunes: PEEL CASTLE (Manx Fisherman’s Hymn); EVENTIDE (Abide with me)