How can Christians respond in a time of adversity? Bishop Rennis Ponniah suggests 3Ps
Bishop Rennis Ponniah // February 23, 2020, 12:40 am
Photos: Ang Wei Ming and Marcus Chow
In a video addressing the Anglican churches here, Bishop of Singapore, Rennis Ponniah, reminded worshippers to proclaim Christ’s Lordship, pray for God’s mercy and present ourselves for God’s use.
This message was released last night by the Diocese of Singapore, which consists of 27 parishes in Singapore and six deaneries throughout Asia.
Together with our nation, we are facing a time of adversity because of the coronavirus. How should Christians respond?
1. PROCLAIM CHRIST’S LORDSHIP
We are to find strength in God’s word and in the fellowship of God’s people, to believe that the Lord our God is on the throne. The good times and the hard times are all in His hands.
God is not the source of the coronavirus, but He can harness it to serve His saving purposes. God weeps with those who suffer because of the outbreak.
But He is also sovereign over the pestilence, and He can use it to reveal who He is – that He is a God who protects, heals and delivers. Because God is love.
He is our covenant-keeping God who promises to take His people through every crisis and accomplish His purpose. Our lives are in His hands.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has made Him the Lord of the nations. Jesus Christ is Lord over Singapore. He is Lord over our Deanery countries.
We must proclaim it in our prayers and in our times of worshipping together: Christ is sovereign over this outbreak. He is turning the nation God-ward, and He is building the values and social cohesion of the nation.
Let us therefore proclaim Christ’s Lordship over our nation and let us trust Him to work out His good and saving purposes.
2. PRAY FOR GOD’S MERCY
God’s deliverances are always an answer to the people’s prayers. We need God to stop the spread of this potent virus, heal those who are afflicted, find a vaccine for it and de-escalate the DORSCON status.
We are to cry out for God’s mercy. The more earnest we are in our prayers, the more precious will be God’s deliverance when it comes.
Let us plead for God’s mercy. Let us also claim God’s promises as the Holy Spirit leads us.
We are going to do this by forming small prayer bands in our churches, our neighbourhoods and our offices. From time to time, we will call for appropriate prayer assemblies.
Very importantly, we are calling all Christians in Singapore to participate in synchronised prayer for the nation. This will be at 12 noon every day.
The new bells of St Andrew’s Cathedral will also chime at noon everyday – to remind Christians to stop and pray for God’s help to overcome this virus.
3. PRESENT OURSELVES FOR GOD’S USE
We are to do this by being socially responsible ourselves:
- Follow the advisories from the Ministry of Health and from the Church.
- Stay at home even if you have very mild symptoms of being unwell. Our Church is working hard to provide online liturgy and sermons so you can still participate in corporate worship from home.
- We are also preparing for ways in which the Church can worship in smaller groups, to reduce scale and social mingling at this time when we want to minimise the spread.
- Adjust gracefully to changes in the form of our services and administration of the Holy Communion.
- Do not pass on unverified news.
- Buy what you require and share with those in need.
Take the necessary precautions and then be proactive in caring for others, such as those who are quarantined or afflicted, and their families; those who are more vulnerable and under tremendous stress at this time such as healthcare providers and public authority personnel; and the elderly who may not have social support.
Share the message of Gospel hope in this time of adversity, when many are troubled by the uncertainty and the threat. In Christ, we have the hope of the fullness of life and of a life that never ceases.
In conclusion, let me end by reading from Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV).
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
We will trust God, obey His word and be His blessing to our nation.
THINK + TALK
- Is it hard to recognise God’s Lordship and sovereignty during such a time?
- What do you think He is doing in Singapore and around the world?
- How can you present yourself to be used as His hands and feet?