OK. I was wrong in my Monday blog. Neither of our Archbishops have been entirely missing.
Here in Wales I wouldn’t expect to hear from either of the Archbishops but when I went to church on Sunday I did think there would have been some words of uplift and spiritual support from our Bishops. Here in the diocese of St Asaph there was lots of information for the clergy about the problems concerning Holy Communion. (No chalice for the laity and gallons of hand sanitiser.) We also had one collection plate on a stand in the middle of the aisle and — oh, joy! — no Peace.
Apart from that there was nothing to indicate that we are at the beginning of what is going to be one of the most desperate emergencies anyone can imagine. Well, anyone born after, say, 1950.
Came the Swinging Sixties, the War was forgotten and everyday life got better and continued to get better and better for many decades. (I haven’t been quite so confident about things this century, however.)
I can remember earlier and tougher times when buying even one toilet roll was a success. And what a welcome change it made from tearing up newspaper! In those rougher, tougher times we did at least get more support from churches and clergy. They were always THERE, a reliable, trust worthy presence in times of trouble and need, even if they were often a real pain in the neck much of the time. Their voices were heard and they let you know that they knew about GOD and they made sure you did, too.
On Monday morning — just a day late — the voices of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York were heard at last.
In the Daily Mail.
Well, perhaps that was wise. It would reach a larger audience than any church congregation.
As in epidemics throughout history the fear we feel disturbs us very deeply, and dread comes upon us, the archbishops say.
Too right – particularly the fear of our own mortality.
And the answer to conquering this fear, according to the Archbishops “is the love that we receive.”
What love? Whose love?
Since it’s the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the whole world wide Anglican communion speaking, you might have your own ideas about whose love he’s talking about. Guess again.
The examples given include a child embraced by “someone who loves them”; “someone of great age quietened with a familiar voice”; or the words of a friend. This seems to me to have more to do with Jayne Ozanne’s brand of ‘Just Love’ than anything you’ll find in the Bible. Apart from a reference to the Good Samaritan there was one subtle Biblical echo, when Welby and Sentamu warn us that “We must distinguish between a healthy fear — the beginning of wisdom . . . .” and unhealthy fear (panic buying?)
After 746 words (yes, I counted them) we get to what I think they should have been saying all the time. Politicians and social workers could have said all the rest of it.
“Finally, there is one more thing that everyone can do. Something we would expect from two Archbishops. We make no apology for saying ‘Pray.‘”
Dear God! Has it really come to this? That church leaders, at a time of truly life changing crisis, feel they can only dare slip in 239 words about religion at the end of a generalised feel-good homily.
They recommend reading the 23rd Psalm and they suggest we recite the Lord’s Prayer while washing our hands.
Thank God we’re only fighting a virus and not a real war.
“Ian” has commented that he thinks Psalm 46 is even more suitable for today. I agree with him. What could be better than this?
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.”
I could quote more but it will be better if you go away and read it for yourselves.
In fact, what I’d really like to happen is for the two Archbishops, the 100 and more other English bishops, the Archbishop of Wales and all five Welsh bishops to make a corporate decision. At certain times, five perhaps, throughout the day, they should stand outside their cathedrals, read from the psalms, from certain portions of the Bible, and then offer prayers and blessings over the cities they serve. All filmed from a safe distance. Other clergy could, perhaps, follow their example. It is good that Justin and John are suggesting what we should do.
Even better if they gave us a visual lead we could follow.