A letter from our All Ireland Indoor Member Contact – June

June 2020,

Dear Diocesan IMCs,
It is hard to believe that we are still in lockdown. Many of our friends and neighbours are still self-isolating and feeling a little bit anxious about going outside now that some restrictions have been eased. Modern technology has become a very important part of our everyday living although not everyone has access to the internet. A friendly phone call is much appreciated by those who can’t keep in touch using social media. I regularly phone a number of people who live alone and enjoy a chat. Why not phone someone who would like some prayers or verses of scripture read to them?

Much practical help is available as well as resources from voluntary and statutory services. The Public Health Agency in N I have produced a comprehensive booklet providing advice for people who have experienced bereavement during the COVID 19 pandemic period. Two other useful booklets are also available – one dealing with practicalities and the other a children’s story helping children deal with the death of a loved one. These excellent resources can be downloaded at https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/covid-19-bereavement-resources. Valuable and practical support can also be found on the HSE website: https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/mental-health/covid-19/bereavement-and-grief-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic.html.

We read in Philippians 4: 6 – ‘Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and in 1 Peter 5: 7 we are told to ‘Cast all your anxiety him because he cares for you.’

The Psalms have always been a great source of comfort to people particularly when they are anxious and worried. The following verses from the Psalms come to mind.

Psalm 46: 1-3 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psalm 27: 1 The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 55: 24 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

During the last few weeks, I have looked at various websites to source suitable prayers and readings to pass on to you. I found the following prayers on the Church of England website which I hope you will find helpful.

For comfort:
Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low, that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

For those who are unwell or isolated:
God of compassion, be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation. In their loneliness, be their consolation; in their anxiety, be their hope; in their darkness, be their light, through him who suffered alone on the cross, but reigns with you in glory, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

For hospital staff and medical researchers:
Gracious God, give skill, sympathy and resilience to all who are caring for the sick, and your wisdom to those searching for a cure. Strengthen them with your spirit, that through their work many will be restored to health; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Many of you knitted the hearts from the pattern included in the last letter I sent. These can be given to people who live alone or those in care homes as well as to those suffering from Coronavirus.

You may like to knit these squares from the pattern below. I have also included the prayer for you although you may wish to write a prayer of your own. I gave the pattern to a neighbour last week who knit one each for the people in her parish who are receiving cooked meals twice weekly. Those receiving them were very touched.

Take care and keep safe,

May this square, knitted and given in love, be a reminder of my prayers for you at this time, and bring comfort and assurance of the love of Christ and his constant presence with you. Amen

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