Church leaders call nation to prayer as second lockdown begins

(Photo: Unsplash/GaryButterfield)

As a second national lockdown in England begins, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are asking people to unite in prayer. 

In a joint letter to the nation, they spoke of "deeply challenging and difficult times ... surrounded by fear and suffering". 

The letter reads: "There is a story in the Bible where Jesus and his disciples are caught in a storm. The disciples are understandably terrified as the wind and waves threaten to overpower them. 'Why are you so afraid?', Jesus asks

"This year, we too have been caught in a storm which often feels overwhelming. And yet we can look to Jesus, in the boat with us, who calms the storm and comforts us in our fear." 

Acknowledging that it was "hard to feel hopeful", they called for a "calm, courageous and compassionate" response to the challenges of the second lockdown. 

"We are writing to share our belief that whoever you are, and whatever you happen to believe, you are loved by God. Beyond measure," they said.

"We also want you to know that we are praying for you, particularly asking that Christ's love will comfort us, calm our fears, and lead our nation and our world through this terrible pandemic." 

Explaining what a "calm, courageous and compassionate" response looks like in practical terms, they said it meant reaching out to neighbours with kindness, and "not hoarding" but only buying what was needed.

The Archbishops are asking Christians to pray each day at 6pm during the four-week lockdown. 

Resources have been produced by the Church of England to be used in conjunction with the month of prayer. 

"Even though there is much darkness around us, there are also many points of light in the weeks ahead," they said, including Christmas with its message that "God is with us, sharing our darkness and our struggles, bringing comfort and joy".

"This Sunday is Remembrance Day," the Archbishops continued.

"As we remember the courage and sacrifice of those who gave everything for this nation in war, we are also reminded of the possibility for hope after destruction, of new life after suffering."