British and Irish Church leaders call for prayer for the suffering during Holy Week

Published 06 April 2020  |  
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British and Irish Church leaders have issued a joint call to Christians across the denominations to pray during Holy Week for all those suffering as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The call has been issued by members of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, Churches Together in England, Cytûn (Churches Together in Wales), ACTS and Churches in Ireland.

In their joint Holy Week statement, they voice concern over the "alarming rate" with which the coronavirus continues to spread across Britain and Ireland.

"God's world is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis," they write.

They noted the "extreme pressure" that the health services and other institutions are under, as they warned of the "danger that the most vulnerable in society will be most badly affected".

They went on to speak about the "depths of despair and heights of joy" at the centre of the Christian faith, as they reminded Christians that in Christ "suffering is redeemed and transformed into hope and joy".

"After Jesus' death his disciples were afraid and all seemed lost and hopeless, but the risen Christ met them in their despair and restored hope through his victory over death," they said.

"We pray that the world today might know this hope in place of despair."

They drew upon the example of Daniel who, while in exile in Babylon, prayed with his window opened towards Jerusalem.

"Though he was on his own he joined with the prayers of the people wherever they were. Now we too are separated from each other physically, but when we pray in our homes we join in with this ancient tradition of our home as a place of prayer," they said.

"Wherever we are, whenever we pray, when we speak and think of Christ, there he is in the midst of us. We join our prayers with all those who pray in our own churches and communities and around the world."

They concluded with an invitation to Christians to pray for the suffering.

They said: "As church leaders from across the many and varied churches of these Islands we urge all people to join us in prayer this Holy Week and Easter; to pray for those who suffer, those who face untimely death and all those who care for them; to celebrate our common faith at a difficult time; to help and support our neighbours in need; and to observe all the safeguards in place to slow the spread of disease."

The Churches have produced a prayer to be used in the run-up to Easter:

Our Prayer

Loving God, in Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for our salvation, cast out the darkness of our anxiety, fear and mourning, enfold us in your love and give us joy and hope this Easter. Amen.

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