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A Pastoral Message from the Rector Regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis

Dear brothers and sisters,

I hope you are all keeping well. The cherry blossoms’ transition from bud to bloom in Yamate has just begun. But until now we don’t see improving transitions in the Coronavirus crisis. All day long we hear bad and sad news.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11th declared the coronavirus a pandemic. In line with WHO declaration, many countries have declared national emergencies to fight the coronavirus. As a result, panicked shoppers around the world have emptied grocery store shelves as fear of the coronavirus rises. The coronavirus pandemic is causing an economic pandemic. Many sports games and activities have been cancelled or suspended. Coronavirus fears also impact religious gatherings and practices across the world. Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic is driving our lives into states of fear and anxiety.

Coronavirus and the fears it brings remind me of the gospel story (Mark 4:35-41) of the disciples riding through a rough storm, facing fear, and in their fear waking Jesus Christ up from a deep sleep. As you may recall, in this passage the seafarers face a deep fear when big waves come. The only thing they can do is to wait out the storm for the calm to return. We all live in fear. It is a part of our lives, and we need to have the courage to resist being overcome by our fears. The grace and courage to control fear comes from our Faith – our trust in God. Fear can in fact be the beginning of real faith for us. We cannot control the waves of fear, and they may seem to be too large to overcome. But with faith in the Lord, the storms will calm, and we will be able to “surf” the waves of fear rather than allow them to swallow us up.

Thus, in these days of fear and anxiety, let us keep our faith to surf the waves of the fear of the coronavirus. Let these words of Psalm (57:1) inspire us to keep the faith: “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by.”

Lastly, my thoughts and prayers are with all those who continue to suffer due to the coronavirus and I offer my sincere condolences to families who have lost loved ones due to this present pandemic.

Keep safe wherever you may be at this time.

I very much look forward to celebrating together our Holy Eucharist on Palm Sunday on April 5th.

God bless you all,

Simon, Rector of Yokohama Christ Church