COVID-19 in for the long run – church and society

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.

The pandemic calls for closed hymnals

This article by L. Roger Owens is an interesting reflection for those who are finding the ban on singing in church problematic –

The pandemic calls for closed hymnals

L. Roger Owens teaches Christian spirituality and ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is author of Threshold of Discovery: A Field Guide to Spirituality in Midlife

 

‘This sudden Sabbath gives us pause’ – a hymn response to the Coronavirus crisis – link to new tune by John Kleinheksel added

This sudden Sabbath gives us pause
to rest and to reflect.
What is the focus of our lives
and what is its effect?
We live within a common world,
whatever race or creed;
for things maintaining life and health,
we share a common need.

For some a love of God becomes the
centre of their prayer,
but such a love’s a hollow boast
when neighbours have no care.
The early Christians took the lead
of Jesus as their style,
to hold in common all they had,
to go the second mile.

When people safe-guard all they have,
while others queue in fear,
when those who have are given more,
while hunger’s drawing near;
where is our faith, our common love,
as cries become more stark,
when poverty crowds round our door,
the future clouded, dark?

Now is the moment for us all
to live what we confess,
to live within community
the faith that we profess.
Then let us stand as one with all
we share a common birth,
that on until eternity
love holds each life on earth.

Andrew Pratt 18/3/2020 – In response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Tune: COE FEN; SOLL’S SEIN
New Tune: This.Sudden.Sabbsth.virus.2021.Pratt
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.

Rejoice, for things are as they are – a hymn in time of trouble

Rejoice, for things are as they are;
don’t flee as clouds that flow and drift
on wings of wind that shift and change;
God’s love will comfort, calm and lift.

For God is your celestial shield,
no cosmic power, nor human scheme
will separate you from that love
no matter how your terrors teem.

Your going out, your coming in
are safe, whatever, come what may.
You know the reason to rejoice
so sing God’s praise by night, by day.

Partly inspired by Psalm 121 and Romans 8 v38-39. Published in Reclaiming Praise, 2006, Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2003, 2006Stainer & 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: LM

See https://hymnsandbooks.blog/2020/03/12/hymns-in-a-time-of-pandemic/

Hymns in a time of pandemic

As I write the news is full of coronavirus and in the UK Brexit seems to have disappeared off the agenda, at least temporarily. I wonder what our hymnody has to offer in this context?
I sense a mixed feeling from the low-key ‘this is like flu’ or ‘a bad cold’ to the warning that older people are more vulnerable, that this may be fatal and, aside from avoiding one another and washing our hands, there is little we can do. For which hymns do we reach at such times?
Perhaps this is a moment for that style of effervescent worship that lifts us above physical reality and, for a moment at least, takes us out of the world to which, inevitably, we will return when we leave church? Or is it time for ‘Abide with me’?
Are there texts which recognise the finality of our existence, which sharpen our focus and, maybe, our faith ‘till we cast our crowns before Thee, lost in wonder, love and praise’? Is there a middle way
which acknowledges the finitude of human earthly existence while, at the same time, offering some reassurance of the persistent love of God in spite of all things, that love from which, mythologically or in ultimate reality, we can never be separated?

For God is your celestial shield,
no cosmic power, nor human scheme
will separate you from that love
no matter how your terrors teem.

*From ‘Rejoice for things are as they are’ Andrew E Pratt; Partly inspired by Psalm 121 and Romans 8 v38-39 © 2003, 2006 Stainer & Bell Ltd. Full text: https://hymnsandbooks.blog/2020/03/13/rejoice-for-things-are-as-they-are-a-hymn-in-time-of-trouble/