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15 February 2020 | Vicar Writes

Kyrie Eleison

By Terry Wong

"But we prayed to our God
and posted a guard day and night
to meet this threat.”
Nehemiah 4:9

As the new year started, none of us anticipated another global virus crisis and locally, that we would be in this “DORSCON Orange” position. It is a time of testing for all.

As you will be able to see, we are stepping up our measures, guided by MOH and our Diocesan advisories. We also have an inter-congregational think-tank group that is working hard at implementing, improving and updating our measures. If you have any feedback, please drop us an email.

Your patient cooperation is appreciated. We will be releasing our Advisories digitally and through our weekend bulletin.

This verse from the book of Nehemiah is helpful as we consider the interplay of prayer with strategic planning, faith accompanied by works. The interplay of human responsibility and divine sovereignty has always characterised the response of the Church to issues of faith and life. I don’t think we can ever separate the two spheres as they come together integrally.

We have a deep trust in God and our prayerful attitude reflects our dependence on divine help. At the same time, to the best of our ability and knowledge, we act responsibly as we also believe that God uses our skills, wisdom and willingness to work hard. He certainly does not reward laziness, neglect and irresponsibility. We can also see this truth reflected in the tension a sick Christian may face in trusting for divine healing and yet seeking for medical help at the same time. Or whether a believer should buy insurance or have savings in the bank for a rainy day.  

The amazing thing about our struggle with the unseen world of microbes and viruses is that given what we know today, human beings are just as vulnerable. Issues of personal hygiene (such as careful washing) are still very relevant and somewhat similar to ancient times. This is an ironic truth that I drew attention to as I preached last Tuesday at the clergy Communion from the lectionary Gospel reading, Mark 7:1-13.

We may gain some measure of mastery over viruses like smallpox with the discovery of vaccinations, penicillin and antibiotics and so on. Yet, we seem to be going back to square one again when faced with a new threat.  

We recall the cherished Benedictine principle - Ora et labora - pray and work. And how may we pray during this season? Some have a tendency to speculate and imagine that this pestilence is yet another act of judgment on persons or nations.

In AD590, the bubonic plague was raging in Rome. As a corporate expression of repentance before God, Pope Gregory directed the populace to march in procession chanting the Kyrie Eleison, a prayer which we also say in our Communion liturgy: "Lord have mercy on us.” I believe this is the best response. We don't point fingers and find legitimacy in our suffering by attributing the cause of it to others. Instead, through “standing in the gap” intercession, we repent before our Holy Lord and declare again how much we need His mercy.

It is in a season where we gather less and cut down on meetings. This will be a season of “retreat.” Alone or with close friends and family, let's be more prayerful and let God search our hearts. The Lord wants to speak to your situation.