The following is a message from the presidency of the Conference of European Churches: Rev. Christian Krieger (President, Reformed Protestant Church of Alsace and Lorraine), Rt Rev. Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani (Vice-President, Church of England) and Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden and All Scandinavia (Vice-President, Ecumenical Patriarchate).
“Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7
As we all brace to fight COVID-19, being a fellowship of European churches, we reaffirm our common Christian faith based on the certainty that life is stronger than death, that Jesus Christ overcame death and the fear of it. Our faith holds us together, that is our strength.
Emboldened by the power of our spiritual unity and living faith, through the liturgy and proper instruction, with encouragement and consolation, we pray for all humankind. We pray for the healing of the sick, the souls of the departed, and courage and strength for the families of the afflicted, that our voluntary isolation may be transformed into genuine communion.
While we take measures to protect our loved ones, our communities and ourselves, let us remember to not lose touch. We need physical distancing – but we also need social solidarity. Let us find ways to speak to each other, comfort those who need it and stay with those who are lonely. Let us think of each other and remain connected with our brothers and sisters.
We do not need spiritual distancing
As we distance physically from each other, let us remember to be close spiritually. Online praying may be a new experience, but we know that our members and partners across Europe are using digital means to continue congregational life in a successful way. They are offering messages of hope and encouragement, sharing online resources not only to spread information but also to support each other spiritually.
Together we pray for the vulnerable and elderly. We pray for those who are frightened or depressed because of isolation and exclusion. We also pray for the medical staff and nursing professionals at the front lines, in hospitals and care homes.
We pray too for researchers and scientists searching for proper medication and a vaccination to deliver us from this virus, and for the health authorities, who have the primary responsibility for planning, confronting and overcoming this crisis. We keep in mind all those who continue to work for our basic needs and we live with the hope that science will indeed prevail!
The pandemic is bringing economic stress, with companies struggling to survive during lock-downs and large numbers of people losing their jobs. This threatens the social fabric of our societies and sharpens social and economic divisions, making an effective response to COVID-19 even harder to achieve.
Together we pray for people who are losing their jobs and whose livelihood is at risk due to changed patterns of living and restrictions imposed to control the situation. We pray for our politicians, decision makers and experts that they may act wisely and for the common good.
A time for reflection
Now is also the time to begin reflecting on the opportunities this crisis creates. We are rediscovering the need for solidarity. The enforced solitude reconnects us with our humanity and with what is essential. COVID-19 prompts us to reflect on the state of our world, the priorities of our governments and the global economy, as well as on our own personal and spiritual lives. Let us pray for a renewed awareness of our collective approach to life so that we may preserve those things which are most precious and life-giving, allowing each person their dignity and ensuring appropriate care for creation.
Staying together as churches
As we pray for the world and look to care for our neighbours, let us remember that our unity is even more important when we face times of crisis. We are being called to cooperate and demonstrate God’s love for all people through prayer and action.
Our hope is intact.
Christ’s love is stronger.