As governments around the world react and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are finding themselves facing unprecedented restrictions on their day-to-day lives.
Many of us will have lived with such restrictions on a temporary basis in our particular country or region over recent years in response to instability, wars, and natural disasters. But for many, such restrictions are new. In any event, the global nature of the restrictions put them on an entirely different scale not seen since the Second World War.
Many provinces of the Anglican Communion have suspended public worship in response to local official advice. This, along with other restrictions people are being asked to face, may be daunting, confusing and upsetting.
The first thing that we want to say is that the suspension of public corporate acts of worship does not mean that we stop worshipping God. We can worship Him and continue to pray both privately and within our families. We have a number of resources to help you pray, including the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, through which we can join together, around the world, to pray for specific dioceses and provinces of our Anglican Communion. You can find these at anglicancommunion.org/prayer.
The second thing we want to say is a reminder to us all to continue to place our trust in God. In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul said: “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And Paul, with Timothy, in their letter to the Church at Philippi, said: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
In our prayers, in addition to praying for those who are ill, and for those who are lonely, we should pray for wisdom for those in authority and for strength to be given to medical workers. We should do more than pray. We should also act by heeding the advice of our respective national and regional authorities who are working to contain the virus; and, we should care for those who are unable to care for themselves.
We want you to know that we are all praying for you all at this time and we will continue to pray for the whole of God’s Church and God’s World.
The Most Revd and Right Honourable Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury
President of the Anglican Consultative Council, Chair of the Primates’ Meeting
The Most Revd Paul Kwong
Archbishop of Hong Kong
Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council
The Most Revd Josiah-Idowu-Fearon
Secretary General of the Anglican Communion