Friday, March 13, 2020

Coronavirus - Some Further Thoughts


The Coronavirus continues to dominate our news, and I know will be a cause of anxiety for many. Following on from my previous blog I wanted to give a further update with some thoughts and information on how we respond.

Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus

It is easy in these moments to give in to fear and to forget where our help comes from. Psalm 46 reminds us:


'God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.'
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:1-3‬

We may feel powerless, but we aren't. There are things that we can do both practically and prayerfully. I will talk in a moment about our practical response, but I want first of all to encourage us to be a people of prayer. Pete Greig has suggested that rather than singing Happy Birthday as we wash our hands we use those 20 seconds to pray. If you have a smartphone then the Lectio 365 app from 24-7 prayer had a devotional on Tuesday 10th March which is a response to the Coronavirus. 

You can also join my prayer cast where we'll continue to pray into all that is happening.
Let us continue to stand on the promises of God:

'If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.'
2 Chronicles 20:9

Now on to the practical.

Sundays

We will continue to gather on Sundays until there is a change in the government advice. 

However, I strongly encourage (I'd command it if I could!) that anyone who for any reason is concerned about the impact on their health if they were to catch Coronavirus shouldn't take a risk but should stay at home and watch the livestream of our 9.30am Bracknell meeting. This goes for people who are due to be serving on Sunday too - please just let your team leaders know so we can plan appropriately.



For those of us who do choose to come on Sunday we are taking a number of measures to try and prevent any spread of the virus. These include:

  • Not putting out any literature on seats as it might be touched by multiple people
  • Taking up the offering via containers as people leave the meetings rather than passing round baskets
  • Taking communion using the wafers in the pods rather than using a shared loaf 
  • For now we will continue to have our self service drinks points and leave it up to individuals as to whether they want to make use of them or not
  • Where possible we will wedge doors open so that multiple people aren't touching the handles
  • Our kids and youth teams are also taking measures specific to those ministries
  • Let's greet one another with an elbow bump rather than hugs or hand shakes to try and limit the chances of the spread of the virus
If the government advice does change and we decide to cancel our Sunday meetings then we will livestream a 9.30am Sunday meeting for everyone to engage with remotely. 


Midweek Gatherings

We will take decisions on whether or not our midweek gatherings go ahead on a case by case basis. For centrally organised events take a look at the what's on section of the Kerith website for the latest information. For small groups speak with your small group leaders who will be making their own decisions on whether or not small groups continue to meet. 

Serving the community

We are assembling a volunteer team who will contact everyone in our church community who because of age, underlying health conditions or other reasons we think may be vulnerable. We want to make sure we are doing all we can to help these people, as well as ensuring they have the latest advice and information. We will start doing this early next week. I'd encourage anyone who feels in need of advice or support, and for whatever reason doesn't have a small group, friends or neighbours who can help them to either ring the Kerith Centre on 01344 862699 on weekdays between 9.30am and 5pm or email the office via info@kerith.church. Obviously if you have immediate health concerns then phone 111 and get help that way.

Many of us will be in a position to offer to practically help neighbours. I've just had a conversation with somebody in our street who is vulnerable. I gave him my mobile number so he can contact me if he needs food, a prescription delivering or just somebody to talk to. Ness Wilson, a friend of ours who leads Open Heaven church in Loughborough, recently sent a note round all her neighbours with an offer of help. I thought it was such a great idea I've included a copy below you could customise for your own use. 


Dear Neighbour,
As the UK faces the impact of coronavirus, I wondered if we who live on xxxx Road/Street might provide some support for each other? If you want to be part of a WhatsApp or text messaging group please contact me. That way we can shop, collect medicine or provide a listening ear for each other.
Whether being in a group chat works for you or not, I wanted you to know that if you need anything, please feel free to contact me. It could simply be for a friendly chat on the phone or to buy and drop off some shopping that you need or provide a simple meal. I can easily leave shopping or food on your front door and ring to let you know it's arrived. It’s no trouble at all.
Your Name & Number  

We are also investigating how we can adapt Foodbank to provide a mobile service for people who are self isolating or for other reasons are unable to leave their homes.

Isolated but not alone

There may be a number of us who need to self isolate over the next few weeks. Given the wonders of technology it is now possible to be isolated but not alone! I heard from one older couple who were concerned about not being able to see their grandchildren for a while, but have now worked out how to use Facetime to keep in touch with them. Let's make the most of the opportunity to connect with others via text and whatsapp, to read some of that pile of books by the side of the bed, spend time with family (even if they are two metres away!), to journal and all those other things we normally struggle to find time for. 

It's a joy to be part of such a wonderful community at a time like this. Please be assured of my continued prayers of and love for you all. 

Simon

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