Coronavirus: No warm greetings, no Church

Sunday March 22 2020

Father Giuseppe Corbari, celebrates Mass in

Father Giuseppe Corbari, celebrates Mass in front of photos of his parishioners that he taped to the empty pews. Net Photo 

By Janet Napio

Hebrews 10:25 reads, “ …not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching”.

That right there is one of the Bible verses that backs up congregational worship and it makes sense. All of us (okay at least us loners) are capable of praying without necessarily going to a church or a communal sanctuary but because the Bible commands that we go and meet with other believers, we crawl out of our lairs and fall in line.

But now because of coronavirus, we have to pray from home. I am so incensed, never mind that I have not been to church in about a month. I keep postponing but now behold, there’s no Sunday service to miss and it’s a bit sad.

Of course some people who think they are God’s chief personal assistants might say that God has not given us a spirit of fear or that God protects us from all disease or that He is a healer and that with Him nothing is impossible, and they are right.

But the Bible also says in Romans 13:1-7 that every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same. So obeying the government ban on congregating is the right and responsible thing to do.

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Saying your prayers from home is such a daunting task because of the countless distractions.

At least at the sanctuary, even if your mind might occasionally wander or be distracted by things such as the miniscule dress that the woman in front of you is wearing or the obscene scent being emitted by the man sitting next to you, you are usually drawn back to the preacher or choir.

But at home, there’s no appearance to keep up, so all civility and focus is thrown out the window. This means that for any sensible prayers to take place, we must draw up plans and see how to execute them.

Draw up a mental service plan. If you have a family, every member should be allocated a role. For instance, there should be a preacher of the day, the choir leader who will choose the songs and guide the praise and worship session and the announcer who will deliver any new developments in regard to your family congregation.

However, this person must be reminded that this is not the time to make irrelevant announcements such as how someone forgot to do the laundry or do the dishes.

Also, these services, mass or whatever you want to call them should not drag on for too long. It should be an hour at most and should be at an hour that is favourable to all members of your household. Do not drag people out of bed at ungodly hours in the name of Sunday service.

If you live alone, when Sunday morning rolls around, dress up in your Sunday best and sit in your living room, sing for yourself, share the reading of the day with yourself and then stand in front of the mirror and preach to yourself. God will bless you for me.

Praying the tech way
Since many believers can not have prayers, spiritual leaders have found ways of ensuring services continue happening.

In Uganda for instance, Our Lady of Africa, Mbuya has promised to stream a service on Facebook for their believers that will want to follow.

Others have opted to use platforms like TV and radio stations to continue preaching the good message. In Italy, Father Giueseppe Corbari has for instance gone viral for conducting Mass with photos of his parishoners taped to their empty seats.

Much as he doesn’t stream his services, he says it is easier to say Mass looking at pictures of parishoners than at empty seats.

Father Corbari ministers at Saints Quirico and Giulitta parish in Robbiano, on the periphery of Milan in Italy’s Lombardy region, which is at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak - could easily fall into this category.

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