Fight against coronavirus is at a 'critical moment', say Church leaders

(Photo: Unsplash/Jordan Harrison)

Church of Ireland leaders are praying for "brighter days ahead" as more restrictions are imposed across the island in the fight against coronavirus. 

In a statement to coincide with Harvest, the Archbishop of Armagh, John McDowell, and the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, said it was a "critical moment" in the island's collective effort against Covid-19. 

While the crisis could lead to "renewal", the Archbishops asked that everyone continue to play their part to reduce the spread of the virus and be "carriers of hope". 

"In following the call of our Lord to love our neighbours as ourselves, we all have a responsibility – and the power to make a difference – in containing the virus through our everyday choices and actions," they said.

"A return to restrictions is a reminder of our own limitations and the complexities faced by those in political leadership," they continued, as they called on people to  

"We, like countless others, pray that there will be brighter days ahead.

"This situation, as with many recorded in Scripture, will pass but until then, this is a journey on which we all must continue together." 

They commended parishes for continuing to serve their communities through the pandemic, and "responding creatively" to ensure people could still join services despite the disruption to in-church services.

"While more patience, compassion and discipline will be required in the coming months, we can be confident that this can be a time of renewal as we take up opportunities to be carriers of hope, to serve and care in local communities which will become more familiar to us," they said. 

The letter concludes by asking people to think of ways they could be there for key workers, the vulnerable, elderly and lonely. 

"Over the shorter days and longer nights, we should consider how acts and words of kindness can continue to help front-line workers, who deserve our continued support and gratitude; people who will be facing renewed restrictions whilst living alone; and all who are especially at risk through age or another vulnerability," they said. 

"What we can celebrate at Harvest can be brought into the months ahead: a faith in the God whose love never fails his people; hope that the Earth and all within it is the Lord's; and the love of a natural world where God offers to us the beauty of the lilies in the field and mourns the death of every sparrow – how much more do we matter to him." 

The Archbishops have written a special prayer to be used to coincide with Harvest: 

Heavenly Father, Lord of all creation
 We thank you for the coming of the harvest
 And for those who maintain the provision of food.
 Enable us to become better stewards of your creation,
 Thinking always of our legacy to future generations.
 Mindful of the unequal burdens borne by the old and the sick in this emergency
 Inspire us also to be unsparing in giving ourselves in the service of our neighbour
 And in support of all who continue to work on the frontline
 In government, in hospitals and care homes, and in the community.
 All this we ask in the Name of your Son, the servant of all.