As I write this piece, the stock markets have crashed and fear is beginning to mount as the number of coronavirus cases in the UK has risen to over 300. It is difficult to predict where we’ll be by the time you read this and it’s important that we continue to heed official advice.
Alongside this, the Bishop of St Albans has come up with four ‘golden rules’ for Christians which we won’t hear from the Government. I commend them to you:
Golden Rule One. Each one of us can think about how we can protect and support our neighbours. So much of the public rhetoric is sowing fear about the danger of other people. So, while ensuring you take all the official precautions, offer help and reassurance to others – and don’t demonise anyone or any group.
Golden Rule Two. Think about who may be suffering the most. For those of us who are healthy, there is much less to worry about, but the elderly, the housebound and those with chronic health conditions may be very anxious. Could your church do an audit of vulnerable people and share out the responsibility to phone them each day? There’s nothing like a friendly voice to offer solace when someone is worried. A smile can bring cheer, even on the phone. If you visit, follow all the official precautions.
Golden Rule Three. Don’t give in to panic and start hoarding food. There is plenty to go around, so practise the Christian discipline of sharing. Ask your neighbours what they need and do your best to help them get it. If you are self-isolating you will, of course, need some supplies.
Golden Rule Four. Live today to the full. None of us ever know what the future holds. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:25–34), Jesus challenged his followers to live each day fully and not be afraid. Every time we are tempted to give in to fear we need to make a conscious choice to respond in trust and openness.
To that I would add: don’t forget to pray and remember, as we approach Easter, the wonderful truth that lies at the heart of our faith, that perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)
Rt Revd Dr John Inge
The Bishop of Worcester