For the Coronavirus epidemic

Call to Prayer March 2020

Help, Lord God, help in this trouble!

I think death is at the door.

Christ, stay with me, for You have overcome it.

-Ulrich Zwingli (Pestlied)

Dear Friends,

In 1519 a wave of the Plague moved along the Rhine, and after making its way through Basel and Schaffhausen it came upon the city of Zürich. At the time Ulrich Zwingli was pastor of the Grossmünster, and for several months he had stayed behind to ease the city’s suffering. You see, unlike everyone else Zwingli was not allowed to leave, for as Leutpriester or people’s priest he was like a captain on a sinking ship. While others could run away, he was bound by duty to keep his post, and to take the risk of getting the Plague until the final Zürcher had left or died. By all means, a bribe or two could have bought him a quick getaway, but despite this option he chose to stay and proclaim a promise that the Lord had made.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6

In the face of pestilence Zwingli cherished and proclaimed this promise, and as his spiritual children we must do the same while facing a new pestilence today. Like the Plague the Coronavirus has made its way through different cities and countries, and we are constantly receiving news of how it has surfaced in another place. Furthermore, we are now getting news of Corona cases in Switzerland, which have changed the way we go about life from washing our hands to greeting our neighbours. We find ourselves in an atmosphere that is charged with a number of deep concerns, and it even touches the worship place and changes how we gather together.

Last Sunday at All Souls there was hesitance as we passed the peace, and this led the Elders to wonder if we should err on the side of caution and cancel all of our March events. To be clear, such caution is not unreasonable or a lack of faith, for our Council’s top priority at present is the health and well-being of others. After much discussion it was decided that the World Day of Prayer and the Brunch Seminar will be cancelled until further notice, but services will continue as planned until our cantonal Church says otherwise. Furthermore, this Sunday’s service will be a time of prayer for the areas affected by the Coronavirus, and for the peace of Switzerland and St. Gallen as our leaders seek to address the epidemic. The service will also feature readings from Zwingli’s Pestlied (Plague Song) that he wrote while recovering from the Plague which he contracted as he kept his post in Zürich.

In accordance with the regulations issued by our canton, we have set these conditions for all upcoming services:

  1. Those who have recently traveled to potential risk areas are kindly asked to not attend. These areas currently are China, South Korea, Singapore, Iran, and Italy.
  2. Those who are feeling sick are kindly asked to not attend.
  3. Those who attend must be careful during all personal contact with others (e.g., refrain from shaking hands and giving hugs).
  4. Those who attend must wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer (sanitizer dispensers can be found throughout the Church building).

Again, the health and well-being of others is the top priority of our Council, and as we worship together we want everyone to feel as safe as possible. I invite you to join us this Sunday at 12:00 in Kirche Rotmonten where we will pray for the world and its current troubles, and if you cannot join us then I invite you to pray wherever you will be.

Like Zwingli we will keep our post and proclaim the Lord’s promise in Deuteronomy 31, that He is with us in all things and He will never forsake us.

Blessings and may the grace, peace, love, hope, and joy of Christ be with you all,

-Pastor Scotty

Coronavirus: A Prayer For Medical Scientists by Alden Solovy

God of wisdom,
Bless medical scientists and researchers around the world
With insight and skill, dedication and fortitude,
As they combat coronavirus,
So that their work yields knowledge and understanding,
Speedily finding a vaccine, treatments and deterrents to its spread.

Source of life,
Grant public health and government officials
The strength to act swiftly and decisively,
With compassion and understanding,
In service to humankind,
Fighting this outbreak
And the other diseases that still plague the planet,
Diseases threatening the lives of our brothers and sisters,
Nations and communities,
Young and old.

Rock of Ages,
Bring an end to disease and suffering,
So that all may know
Your compassion and Your grace.

Praised are You, God, healer of flesh, and maker of wonders. Amen.