Coronavirus Message - Bishop Gregory

Dear Friends

We are facing a situation which is unprecedented in my lifetime where the whole of British society has become very concerned about the Coronavirus and the potential danger it offers to so many of us. At a time like this I want to speak with you directly about the way in which we respond, about the way in which our faith relates to the situation we’re facing.

I’d like to begin by reading a passage from the Bible, from Psalm 46 “God is our refuge and our stronghold. A timely help in trouble. So we’re not afraid though the earth shakes and the mountains move in the depths of the sea, though the water seethe in tumult and the mountains quake before His majesty.”

That brief verse of the psalm speaks of the faith of the psalmist in the face of incredible difficulties and reminds us that God is on our side, that God is a source of strength.

We cannot know really why viruses and disease are a part of God’s creation but one thing I’m convinced about and that is that God does not go around saying “Oh, let’s punish this person because they’ve misbehaved. Give them a dose of the virus” or “This person is righteous. They can be blessed with recovery.” The virus hits any of us in rather a unjudgemental way. Any one of us is vulnerable. Any of us can know God’s grace ad strength in this situation.

The Apostle Paul was someone who would always begin his letters to the church with a phrase something like “Grace and Peace be to you from The Lord Jesus Christ” and these two words, “grace” and “peace” are the two words I’s like to share with you as we face whatever circumstances life throws at us at present. God’s attitude towards us is one of love. One in which is He longs to see us flourish. He doesn’t exempt us from the perils and dangers of this world and none of us can be guaranteed immunity from the virus. But He does seek to be with us in all our situations of concern and weakness. He does wish to pour out the gifts of strength, resilience, courage and hope on His people. And these are the things for which we ought to be praying, for grace and for peace. Peace of mind. Calmness. Hope. Gently trusting that God will be with us in the situation, that somehow God will see us through to the end even if all things seem uncomfortable or not working out in the present.

I believe those two words represent God’s promise to us, the gifts of grace and peace. And they’re two words we need to share with the world. We need to be active agents of bringing God’s grace into situations of need. Caring for the lonely and the vulnerable. Loving our neighbours. And we must demonstrate that whatever the trials and tribulations of the present time, we believe that ultimately our lives are safe in God.

And so if I may, I’d like to pray with you and for you.

Dear Father, who created us, and redeemed us, and who has promised us your love, be with us in a time of danger and of worry. May those who suffer, or who are ill, know the blessing of your grace, while we who are well be inspired by your Spirit To be wise and to be servants, working for the healing and wholeness of all, each in our own way. Keep us calm and cautious, strong and open to service, So that we take care of those around us, and also ourselves. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

And may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you and for all those for whom you are concerned this day and for ever more. Amen