THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE – COVID-19

To:                   Ministers and Members of Moravian Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands

Subject:           Pastoral Letter

From:               Bishops Stanley Clarke and Devon Anglin

Date:               March 19, 2020

Brothers and Sisters, we greet you with the comforting and strengthening presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The current global phenomenon of the new Coronavirus/COVID-19can be treated as a test and there are many lessons to learn individually, nationally and globally. One clear lesson is that we are all vulnerable to the unexpected phenomena of nature, which continue to hit the world from time to time. There is a sovereign power greater than all the super powers that ever existed.

The nation and indeed the world are in the midst of a crisis. No one knows how long this will last.We need each other, at different levels of engagement, to comfort, to encourage and to pray. This is a time for us to come together with all the different ideas, skills and creativity relevant to our culture and context, listen to the voice of God in shaping the most appropriate response to each situation.

As Bishops, we must first think about the wellbeing of our pastors.Similarly, as pastors we must think about the wellbeing of our community. As the spiritual leaders, we are the voice of God in the situation; let us be careful that this situation does not divide us but that we unite with the same voice as we love and care for each other.

The church is never removed from the communities we serve. The community is looking to the church to see where our faith is. We are the ones who call people in times of crisis to turn to God for protection and comfort. As the spiritual captains, we must be the last to give up. We are not only caring to the membership of our congregations but we are a living testimony to the community of unbelievers. Let us, therefore, find the courage to stand.

The symbolism of the Church as the physical presence of God in the community is equal to the time of Moses (Numbers 21:9).The people all around were dying from the poisonous snake. Moses was told by God to build a Cross and lift up the bronze serpent on the cross. The cross became the symbol of faith that kept the people alive.Those who looked to the cross were kept alive. John 3:14 – 15 reminds us; “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of man must be lifted up: That whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.    The church is the physical presence of God in the community and the people of faith going to the church in times of crisis is a timely reminder to the rest of the community that God is still in control. We cannot lose faith in times of crisis.

There will always be multiple media to share the gospel; these must be utilized with the most creative means. We are indeed happy to hear of those who are already engaged in such usage. We will never exhaust but enhance the use of technology in communicating, comforting and strengthening each other. As pastors and members, together we lead the nation in this time of crisis. Our churches are powerful symbols in crises and should remain open for those who may wish to gather for prayer and worship following the stipulated guidelines given by the Government.

Brothers and Sisters, Iif the foundations of our faith are destroyed what must the righteous do? Psalm 11:3implores us to renew and restore those foundations. With specific reference to the current scenario: Let us take refuge in the Lord… [Psalm 46] and pray without giving up…

Let us set our house in order and help our congregants and the wider communities to do likewise… [Isaiah 38.1]. This is not a negative or a death sentence; rather it is being honest and realistic in the wake of uncertainty.

Let us listen and apply wise counsels originating from those with the knowledge and with spiritual wisdom [Daniel 1:17, 1 Cor. 12:8, Colossians 2:3] and continue the moral and spiritual nurturing of our congregants and community by traditional and innovative means.

We are encouraging everyone to take the best care to protect self and family. We share with the wider Moravian Episcopal Brothers and Sisters and community in praying for all those who have already fallen victim to the virus, and for healing and recovery for those affected. We pray for the medical professionals in their search for a cure and, in so doing, expose themselves to the virus. We pray for all civic leaders and leaders of our churches that we will seek the divine guidance of our Lord Jesus Christ in making the right decisions and taking appropriate actions for today and beyond.

Let us follow all advice given by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Prime Minister and our medical practitioners and maintain a positive attitude, knowing full well that this will also pass. Let us keep a watch for credible daily updates.

We close with words from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4: 4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice.Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be known unto God.And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think about these things. Those things which you have learned and received and heard, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

May the grace of God be with you.

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