The Archbishop of Canterbury The Most Reverend Justin Welby, a President of Churches Together in England, has appeared on the BBC today, reflecting on the tragic milestone of more than 100,000 people across the UK losing their lives to coronavirus. Alongside the Archbishop of York, he has also called for a renewed season of daily prayer for the nation.
Sharing on BBC Breakfast television, Archbishop Justin reflected: “We have to think of 100,000 individuals, 100,000 families, 100,000 people who had friends – there’s millions who will be affected by that number – but each of them is of infinite value in the sight of God, and that is the Christian reality that’s deep in our heritage in this country.
“And the best way is to think of those who we know who’ve died, and then to remember that’s all over the country, and to seek to do everything we can to serve them and to love them and to be in solidarity with them…
“God came and shared our sorrows, He’s in the middle of this mess, He’s alongside us…”
Speaking of his own grief after the loss of a child many years ago, he shared: “What I remember is the presence of God in grief. It wasn’t easy, it was awful, but there was a profound sense that when we called out to God somehow things happened…
“God is there… we see in Jesus that God got right in the middle of the mess with us, and is alongside.”
Asked about his experience ministering as an assistant chaplain at St Thomas’ Hospital during the pandemic, he shared: “You learn about courage – I was very recently with an ICU team going on shift, and that sense of determination, of compassion… of professionalism that comes from deep within their heart, that teaches me about love.”
“The chaplaincies are working so hard, the staff are working beyond anything that any of us can imagine, they’re bearing these burdens for us and with us, it’s been utterly inspiring.”Reflecting on the tragic loss that so many are experiencing at this time, Archbishop Justin Welby concluded by saying “Today is a day for solidarity and support… be alongside people.”
Watch: BBC Breakfast, ‘The Archbishop of Canterbury asks people to reflect on the “enormity” of the pandemic’
Listen: BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day, “Let us cry out in lament”
A call to reflect and to pray
Yesterday (26 January), The Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued a call to the nation to pause and reflect to remember the more than 100,000 people across the UK who had died after contracting Covid-19, and all those who know and love them.
In an open letter, Archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell invited everyone across England – whether they have faith or not – to pause, reflect on the “enormity of this pandemic” and to pray. The letter also included an invitation to everyone – whether they have faith or not – to join the archbishops in pausing and praying each day at 6pm from Monday 1 February. Prayer resources can be found on The Church of England website.
Acknowledging the wider impact of the pandemic on the whole of society through loneliness, anxiety and economic hardship, they invited people to “cast their fears on God”.
In the letter they also gave thanks for NHS and social care staff, who they described as “a blessing and lifeline for our nation”; for clergy, other frontline workers and “so many good neighbours”. They also urged people to support each other, both by following the guidelines to limit the spread of the virus, and in practical ways, reaching out in care and kindness.
The Methodist Church, another of our national Member Churches, has also supported this daily call to prayer.