A Christian response to Covid-19 ?

Synopsis of the meeting 4 October 2020 ONLINE A possible Christian Response to Covid-19 We read extracts from an article written by Robert White and Roger Abbott, who are members of the Faraday Institute of Science and Religion. Among the points raised in their article written in July were: “Although Covid-19 is pathogenic to humans, there are many other viruses that are beneficial and indeed essential to life, including those that destroy some harmful bacteria that don’t respond to antibiotics.” “Some of the most virulent and dangerous viruses are those that have crossed from animals to humans: the lack of previous exposure in the human population often renders such viruses explosively dangerous.” The various recent examples of this all came from people eating wild animals and spread because of people either inadvertently or even consciously, not obeying the rules needed to prevent such spread. On both of these counts it cannot be said that the spread of Covid-19 is a natural disaster. “It could have been avoided.” They imply that this crisis should make us aware of the practical value of Science. “From a Christian perspective, it is a result of God’s goodness to us that he has created a fruitful comprehensible world in which we can use our understanding of scientific and medical processes for the good of humankind. That knowledge allows us to put precautions in place to limit the damage, reduce the vulnerability and increase the resilience of people at risk and to mitigate or change our behaviours so as to reduce the likelihood of future pandemics. “ They refer to God’s plan for a new creation and return of Jesus, implying this should reduce our sense of fear. Pastoral responses include the selfless serving of others together with conversations about death and dying and recognition that “God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains” (a quote from C.S.Lewis) They end with the need for a preferential option for the poor, the weak and the neglected. They say “These inequities in our world implicate every one of us. It would be a huge missed opportunity if our Christian perspective and practices were not to adapt and change in the wake of such a truly worldwide event. The current raised visibility of the vulnerable amongst us and the refocus of our media gaze from vacuous celebrity to those who actually keep our societies going is an opportunity for all of us to reassess the culture we have helped to create. In many places, the natural environment has become a cleaner, healthier environment. The church should be at the forefront of making sure that conversations are steered towards justice and mercy for the whole of God’s creation.” We briefly mentioned an extract that appeared on a website from a forthcoming book by Tom Wright (former Bishop of Durham) in which he stresses the need for caution and not jump to hasty conclusions about a solution to the world’s problems. He says that lament is a worthy first reaction and “if we spend time in the prayer of lament, new light may come.” We start with tears, locked doors and doubt and out of lament must come a time to make things happen. Alongside this “Rather than questioning why this is happening or what it means, the important response is to be God’s hands and feet in his world” referring to the need to actively care for each other. After the meeting one person challenged the statement "It could have been avoided", taking the line that God must bear some responsibility for what is happening and like some of the psalms we should seriously question God about it, while continuing to live by faith. Nigel Jones Convenor.

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