And who is my neighbour?

An article by Revd Will Gibbs for the Redbourn Common Round

We live in deeply worrying and uncertain times. The spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) confronts us with a global challenge the like of which we have never seen before. The situation is changing daily and I’m well aware that by the time you’re reading this piece the contents may well be rather out of date and the situation will have evolved further.

And yet, there are some principles that will be helpful whatever the day to situation throws at us. At times like this we see the best and worst of human behaviour. Whilst some are stock piling a years’ worth of toilet paper and a half hundred weight in dried pasta, others are reaching out to their neighbours and seeing how they can help and support.

A community coordinated approach for those who are ill or self-isolating is being overseen by the Redbourn Care Group with the help of many amazing volunteers across our village, so do check their website and Facebook if you need help or can offer help to others.

The situation is changing fast so do heed the latest advice but alongside that, you might like to consider some Golden Rules that the Bishop of St Albans has suggested as good ways to respond:

Golden Rule One: Each one of us can think about how we can protect and support our neighbours. So much of the public rhetoric is sowing fear about the danger of other people. So, taking all the official precautions, offer help and reassurance to others – and don’t demonise anyone or any group.

Golden Rule Two: Think about who may be suffering more than me. For those of us who are healthy there is much less to worry about but the elderly, the housebound and those with chronic health conditions may be very anxious. How about drawing up a list of the vulnerable people you know and giving them a regular phone call. There’s nothing like a friendly voice to offer solace when someone is worried. A smile can bring cheer, even on the phone. If you visit, follow all the official precautions or don’t go.

Golder Rule Three: Don’t give into panic and start hoarding food. There is plenty to go around, so practise the Christian discipline of sharing. Ask your neighbours what they need and do you best to help them get it. If you are self-isolating you will of course need some supplies – so please don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Golden Rule Four: Live today to the full. None of us ever know what the future holds. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6. 25–34), Jesus challenged his followers to live each day fully and not be afraid.  Every time we are tempted to give in to fear we need to make a conscious choice to respond in trust and openness.

And, along with just over half the adults in the UK, don’t forget to pray. Here’s a suggestion from a local colleague:

Dear God our Shield and our Defender, guide and protect my neighbour in this time of health emergency; deliver them from all harm and may your love and care ever grow in this place. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Amen.

If there is anything I can do to support or help or reassure you – please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


01582 791 669

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