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Posts Tagged ‘plague’

This coronavirus crisis feels a bit like election season did – there’s just so much news. Every half an hour something new is cancelled. There are graphs all over the internet giving a fresh perspective and interesting and learned experts giving opinions which help you feel like you might get a grip on what’s happening. It’s a big global event with huge repercussions and it’s also a close to home personal one, with some disruption and changes in view for our family.

I’m staying with my mum at the moment and we’re discussing various planned holidays and family events over the next few months and wondering which ones, if any, will go ahead. The Queen’s university (I know! How can she be that old?!) has suspended face to face lectures, and she thinks the exams next week might be cancelled. (So she rather regrets staying up very late last night to study the genetics of viruses for the biology test. Although, who knows if it might come in handy some time soon?) I get an email from the boys’ schools every day with an update of cancelled events, and I send messages to the family Whatsapp group with handwashing reminders.

The Church of England is updating its guidance to churches frequently – no cup at communion, no full immersion baptisms, standing for communion and other procedures to help us to protect people from infection. Behind the scenes clergy and laity are energetically debating how to serve and guard their flocks and parishes and bring God’s grace into a frequently overwhelming situation. My timelines are awash with random pundits asking what the government or the church are up to and making alternative pronouncements. It’s confusing and stressful, and there’s so little I can do about it all.

So I’ve made some decisions about what to pay attention to, although the drama of the frequent announcements will probably keep distracting me. But I’m going to read some things by proper scientists, and I’m going to keep on washing my hands often and for 20 seconds (whilst praying the Lord’s Prayer, which fits). I’m going to try and read things written by Christians who lived through plagues previously, and say some of their prayers. I’m going to pray about how I can serve those who will be in need because of this crisis, especially in our parish. And I’m going to pray the Church of England’s Collect provided to be prayed In the Time of any Common Plague of Sickness. Pray with me?

In the time of any common Plague of Sickness. O ALMIGHTY God, who in thy wrath didst send a plague upon thine own people in the wilderness, for their obstinate rebellion against Moses and Aaron; and also, in the time of king David, didst slay with the plague of pestilence threescore and ten thousand, and yet remembering thy mercy didst save the rest: Have pity upon us miserable sinners, who now are visited with great sickness and mortality; that like as thou didst then accept of an atonement, and didst command the destroying Angel to cease from punishing, so it may now please thee to withdraw from us this plague and grievous sickness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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I wrote a few days ago about music as salve for the soul. And today I’ve been listening to another new favourite group – Poor Bishop Hooper. At the beginning of the year, they started a project called EveryPsalm – releasing a song, with accompanying artwork, based on a Psalm every week for three years. Their music is mellow and lyrical, meditative. And a great way to work through the Psalms at a slow pace.

Curious about the group’s name I had a noodle about the internet and discovered that Bishop Hooper was a reformer, and Bishop of Gloucester and then of Worcester between 1550 and 1554. He was married to Anne, who was one of the first women to be married to an English bishop. He was martyred in 1555 after the Catholic Queen Mary came to the throne. When he became a bishop he surveyed his clergy and found that many of them didn’t know the Ten Commandments, and that a good number did not know who was the author of the Lord’s Prayer, a situation that he worked hard to remedy.

I was interested to see that amongst his writings was the very topical Homily to be Read in the Time of Pestilence. A good reminder that, in all times of difficulty, everyone needs to repent and believe the gospel.

From Homily to be read in a time of Pestilence

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