Let us pray for each other – we are praying for all of you

Let us pray for each other – we are praying for all of you

25 March 2020

CHURCH leaders in Downpatrick and the surrounding area are appealing for prayer, unity and calm as the threat from coronavirus deepens.

Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, and Methodist clergy have urged everyone, particularly those who feel isolated and alone, to look to God for strength, comfort and protection amid this global pandemic.

In a joint statement, the Very Rev Henry Hull, Dean of Down, the Very Rev Fr John Murray, Parish Priest of Downpatrick, the Rev Owen Patterson, minister of Downpatrick Presbyterian Church, the Rev David Steers, minister of Downpatrick, Ballee and Clough Non-subscribing Presbyterian Churches, and the Rev Thomas Clarke, of Downpatrick Methodist Church said: “Let us remember the words in the first letter of Peter, ‘Keep calm and have a sober mind’.

“Daily life is interrupted, but prayer goes on. God’s love goes on. God’s love never ends and He can use each of us in this time of crisis. Let us remember that God desires to be with us in this storm. Let us remember it will pass and let us ask Him for his saving help to overcome all the trials.”

“At this time, we are reminded the word corona is Latin for crown. 

Let us remember that Christians trust in Christ the King, who wears the crown of salvation and is the author of life.”

While the clergy share the sorrow that church services cannot proceed in public, some services are still being offered online via Facebook, live video or recorded on YouTube. There are also blogs, and other resources.

They said: “Everyone is welcome to watch and pray and have spiritual communion and draw life from the word of God.

“Wherever possible, come and join us online and on Facebook and worship in spirit and in truth. Watching television and radio incessantly can lead to anxiety and stress.

“Prayer and worship offer a healing alternative. We need to take time to focus on the Good News. And that is the saving message of Christ Jesus. Prayer is good for the soul. We are body and soul. And we need that spiritual help that comes from prayer and faith. God is constantly telling us not to be afraid, that He is with us. 

“He reminds us to turn away from our sin, our false gods and to turn to Him for help. He speaks of His faithfulness, His constant and everlasting love.

“In times like this, we see very clearly that the distractions from God, such as money or endless entertainment, cannot save us, cannot satisfy us. We need God in our lives to strengthen us, comfort us, forgive us and nourish our hearts and drooping spirits.”

The clergymen said ure reminded people not to take more than they need, that the Lord provides enough for each day. 

“Let us guard against selfishness and, like the Hebrews, who received manna from Heaven, only take what we need for the day. This is a demonstration of real love, putting God and other people first.”

They pointed out that St Patrick, faced many hardships, isolation, helplessness, cold, hunger, sickness and many times, the threat of death.

They recalled that it was in captivity and isolation that the young Patrick grew close to God, having arrived in Ireland a teenager with no real faith in what he had been taught by his Christian parents.  

“In his famous Confession, Patrick wrote that in his suffering he became aware of his lack of faith. He wrote: “So I turned with all my heart to the Lord My God...He protected me and he consoled me as a Father for his son...There is no other God...The Lord God said through the prophet, ‘Call on me in the day of distress and I will set you free and you will glorify me’.”

They said this is a reminder that “God truly is our shield in the strife. There is only God. There is no other saviour. We are people of the cross. But we are people of the resurrection too. Let us draw comfort from that eternal truth as we move towards Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

“As Christians we should say the Lord’s Prayer daily — this is the perfect prayer to our heavenly father. A prayer for all spiritual and temporal needs.”

The church leaders added: “Let us pray for each other. We are praying for all of you. Please don’t forget to pray for us. Please pray for our scientists, that the Holy Spirit will guide them to a vaccine.”

Down Cathedral is offering via webcam Evening Prayer at 5pm from Monday to Friday; Holy Communion on Thursday at 10am; and Morning Prayer on Sunday 11am. The cathedral is open each day for private prayer between 9.30am and 4pm.

St Patrick’s RC Church in Downpatrick is offering mass online at the usual times — weekdays daily at 9.30am and evenings on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 7.30pm, Saturday at 10am and 5.30pm, and Sunday at 9am and noon.  Details can be found on St Patrick’s website: www.parishofdownpatrick.com  Facebook @Downpatrick Parish and Twitter is @Parish of St. Patrick Downpatrick.  App can be downloaded on Downpatrick Parish app.

Downpatrick Presbyterian Church will have daily blogs on its Facebook page and hopes to stream a church service each Sunday at 11.30am at downpatrickpresbyterian.org  The church will deliver bible learning packs to children whose parents send a PM or email. Also, it will be delivering daily devotional books for all members and anyone in the community who request them.

Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church services are available on YouTube channel Downpatrick, Ballee & Clough NSP Churches; also Rev David Steers’ blog on velvethummingbee.com

Downpatrick Methodist Church members are communicating together through social media and the minister is providing weekly services through social media. More details available from  thomas.clarke@irishmethodist.org.