When most people in Britain hear the word “church” they probably think of a building. Or perhaps a vicar.
That might be about to change. Along with schools, theatres, football grounds, pubs and clubs, our doors are having to close so that we can distance ourselves from each other as a way of slowing down and containing the spread of Covid-19. Public worship has stopped for a time. But maybe we can be a different sort of church. What if the doors of the church were not the doors of a building?
But the doors of the hearts of those whose way of life is shaped by the teaching, example, life, death and resurrection of Jesus?
The one who himself said: “I have come not to be served but to serve.” Then we might be more open than we have ever been.
We might be able to help people face the fear and uncertainty of this coronavirus pandemic, and share the light and peace of Christ.
As the archbishops said: “Being a part of the Church of England is going to look very different in the days ahead. Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday and more characterised by the prayer and service we offer.”
Therefore, we are sustaining a daily rhythm of prayer in all our churches. Many are open for private prayer. That might have to change. But whatever happens, we are praying for the nation, and especially for those who are isolated, vulnerable, sick or grieving.
We are encouraging and enabling people to worship at home through live-streamed services, podcasts and other simple resources for prayer.
In particular we are inviting everyone to light a candle at 7pm this evening and place it in their window.
How we respond to the horrors of coronavirus might bring us together, giving us an opportunity to demonstrate what is best about our country: pulling together, looking out for the vulnerable, supporting those in need, and serving the common good.
We are looking to find ways of blessing our communities and offering practical support for the sick, the anxious, the lonely, the isolated and those facing financial hardship.
It feels like there is a darkness descending on our land at the moment. Let us fill it with light. Join in this defiant act of hope this evening.
Light a candle. Place it in your window. Reach out to your neighbour and your community with light and peace. Open the doors of your heart.Together, let us fight this coronavirus.
For online services, visit: achurchnearyou.com/live-stream/
Written by: BISHOP STEPHEN COTTRELL
First published 22.03.20: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1258687/church-closures-coronavirus-bishop-stephen-cottrell