Love never fails. Coronavirus impacts all of us. But love unites us all.
The present emergency is not, of course, as unusual as the media and politicians like to present. For a wealthy, developed, and mostly western, world, the changes to the way we live our lives has been challenging and upsetting. Phrases like social distancing, lockdown and talk of flattening curves are now commonplace and appear to have emerged in recent weeks. Pandemics are not as unusual, though, as the present situation suggests; in my lifetime and in the UK, the flu pandemic of 1957 and the emergence in the western world of HIV in the early 80s, for example, appear to have taught us nothing. Viruses have been around since life emerged on this planet, millions of years ago, and they have done harm and helped us develop at the same time. Viruses in the sea for example are essential for the ecosystem to hold the balance required to support life.
Take the cholera virus which first emerged in parts of India about 200 years ago and with the help of the British Empire travelled around the world, not least to parts of Britain. In places of overcrowding and great poverty, like in London’s Soho, it was devastating. That is until a water pump was identified as the source by John Snow in 1854. That story is a fascinating one but challenging as well because some 200 years after Cholera emerged people around the world are still getting sick and dying from it, mainly in areas of poverty where clean water is unavailable and where the health system is poor. Rather than blaming poor countries, the west could do well to try to eliminate poverty and ensure proper facilities are available to everyone so that when new viruses emerge, every place in the world has a chance of stopping it dead in its tracks.
For some years, the month of May in the UK has been associated with Christian Aid. This year with no access to house to house collections and the closure of churches, fundraising is going to be particularly difficult. There are many calls on our money as every charity is faced with losses during this time but as Christians, we might wish to help Christian Aid in particular. Helping countries to help themselves beat poverty is as important as beating covid-19 for the two are intertwined.
Please support Christian Aid, especially this month. Their website says it all:
“As this virus spreads across the world, love rises up in response. You’ve already shown incredible kindness to your neighbours. Now is the time to reach out to your neighbours both near and far.
“Your love protects. From storms, from drought, and now from coronavirus. Your love protects our global neighbours battling the spread of this illness. Your love protects. With soap, clean water and medical supplies.
“By supporting us this Christian Aid Week, you can reach out and protect more of your neighbours today.”
You can donate through their secure website, https://www.christianaid.org.uk/appeals/key-appeals/christian-aid-week by phoning or by saving and retaining what you wish to give so that when churches reopen we can collect the monies together and send it to Christian Aid.
You can also sign up for daily prayer and reflection with guest speakers, including a special virtual act of worship on May 10th with sermon by Rowan Williams. https://www.christianaid.org.uk/christian-aid-week/daily-prayer-reflection
Again, from the Christian Aid website:
“As we celebrate Christian Aid Week virtually this year we really want to come together as a community at a time when the world needs this more than ever.
“We have all been heartened to see the incredible stories of collective action, local neighbourhood help, and prayer. Now is the time to stand together in love and solidarity.
“We would like to invite you to join in with our daily prayer and reflection during Christian Aid Week, so we can join together in online prayer.
“We’re kicking off Christian Aid Week with a Sunday Service, celebrated by Dr Rowan Williams, and then every day during Christian Aid Week we’ll be joined by our global partners sharing reflections and prayers from the projects and countries where Christian Aid is fighting poverty.”