Thinking Anglicans

Coronavirus: Archbishops write to the nation

Church of England press release copied below.  The letter itself in full is available here, as a PDF.

Coronavirus: Archbishops invite nation to pause, pray and remember 100,000 people ‘known to God and cherished by God’
26/01/2021

“100,000 isn’t just an abstract figure – each number is a person: someone we loved and someone who loved us.”

“Death doesn’t have the last word. In God’s kingdom, every tear will be wiped away.”

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are issuing a call to the nation to pause and reflect to remember the more than 100,000 people across the UK who have died after contracting Covid-19 and all those who know and love them.

In an open letter, Archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell invite everyone across England – whether they have faith or not – to pause, reflect on the “enormity of this pandemic” and to pray.

Death, they insist, does not have “the last word”, and the Christian faith promises that one day “every tear will be wiped away”.

God, they write, knows grief and suffering and “shares in the weight of our sadness”.

Acknowledging the wider impact of the pandemic on the whole of society through loneliness, anxiety and economic hardship, they invite people to “cast their fears on God”.

The letter also speaks of the particular impact of the pandemic on poorer communities, minority ethnic communities and those living with disabilities.

It acknowledges many who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the economic impact of the pandemic and it speaks about those unable to be with loved ones as they died or even at their graveside because of the restrictions.

The archbishops give thanks for NHS and social care staff, who they describe as “a blessing and lifeline for our nation”; for clergy, other frontline workers and “so many good neighbours”. They give thanks for the development of vaccines and reiterate a call to everyone to take the vaccine when it is offered.

They also urge people to support each other both by following the guidelines to limit the spread of the virus and in practical ways, reaching out in care and kindness.

The letter includes an invitation to everyone – whether they have faith or not – to join the archbishops in pausing and praying each day at 6pm from February 1.

The archbishops write: “100,000 isn’t just an abstract figure. Each number is a person: someone we loved and someone who loved us. We also believe that each of these people was known to God and cherished by God.
“We write to you then in consolation, but also in encouragement, and ultimately in the hope of Jesus Christ. The God who comes to us in Jesus knew grief and suffering himself. On the cross, Jesus shares the weight of our sadness.”

They conclude: “Most of all, we have hope because God raised Jesus from the dead. This is the Christian hope that we will be celebrating at Easter.
“We live in the hope that we will share in his resurrection. Death doesn’t have the last word. In God’s kingdom, every tear will be wiped away.

“Please be assured of our prayers. Please join us.”

The tragic milestone comes amid lockdown conditions in which large gatherings such as a national memorial service are not possible in person.

It is expected that the Church of England will hold services of remembrance for those who have died and thanksgiving for all those who have cared for them when it is possible to do so.

A prayer for those who mourn is also being shared on social media and will be available to churches across the country. The Text is below.

A prayer for those who mourn

Gracious God,
as we remember before you the thousands who have died,
surround us and all who mourn with your strong compassion.
Be gentle with us in our grief,
protect us from despair,
and give us grace to persevere
and face the future with hope
in Jesus Christ our risen Lord.
Amen.

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Ian Houghton
Ian Houghton
7 months ago

Ecumenism? Interfaith??

Fr John Harris-White
Fr John Harris-White
7 months ago

It is good to see this call to prayer by the Archbishops. Many of us of an older generation remember such calls in past, including during the second world war call from our King, George 6th..
The Archbishops doing what they should, involved in our spiritual, and prayer life.

FR John Emlyn

Just Sayin'
Just Sayin'
7 months ago

‘shares in the weight of our sadness’….’Death doesn’t have the last word.’ Well it bloody well seems to round here mate. The last thing we need right now are platitudes.

Father David
Father David
7 months ago

This is what Quentin Letts thinks of the Church of England’s response to the passing of the grim 100,000 milestone – “No one in public life ever reaches for Scripture or a spiritual phrase now. The churches in our benefice have cancelled all services, When the Lords discussed Covid yesterday, no bishop spoke. Our priests are startled snails.”

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