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UK News

Bishop's golden rules for Christians during the coronavirus

by Heather Preston

The Bishop of St Albans has released a list of four golden rules for Christians to consider when responding to the coronavirus.

Right Rev Alan Smith is encouraging believers to adopt a Christ-like attitude to the outbreak which has infected 319 people in the UK.

Following an emergency Cobra meeting on Monday morning the Prime Minister insisted that the country is still in the containment phase and schools will remain open and sporting events will continue to take place.

Speaking on Premier's News Hour, Bishop Alan said a rise in selfish behaviour inspired him to write the document as "food for thought".

"So much of what's coming over in the media is about putting myself first, so much of it is about fear. And despite everybody saying, don't panic, every single headline seems to be about panic," he said.

He says Jesus teaches us how to respond when we are tempted to panic, adding "this ought to be the very moment in which our faith is helping and supporting and strengthening us during this time."

Over the past week a number of supermarkets have reported having empty selves as members of the public have begun to stockpile essential items such as toilet role and hand sanitiser.

Bishop Alan's first golden rule is to love your neighbour, "think about how you can help someone else other than just trying to put yourself first - it's a very basic Christian message", he said.

Rule two relates to considering the needs of the vulnerable, whether it be the elderly, housebound or those with chronic illnesses. He encourages church members to be pro-active in finding out who may need support, whether it be keeping someone company over the phone or offering to collect their groceries.

'Do not panic' is the Bishop's third golden rule. In light of the surge in panic buying to hit the high streets in recent days he says "as Christians, we're told to practice the discipline of sharing." He explains that those of us with enough money to stockpile should consider the needs of others and ensure there is enough available for those less fortunate.

His fifth rule relates to living today to the full. Referencing Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew, Alan says we are taught not be afraid about the future. "Seek first the kingdom, don't give in to fear and every time we are tempted we need to make a conscious choice to respond in trust and openness," he says.

"Lots of folks in the past have lived through much worst epidemics and problems. Let's be sensible but let's see it as an opportunity to serve and to care for others."

Meanwhile, EasyJet and BA have cancelled a number of flights to and from Italy after 16 million people were put under emergency lockdown.

The country's government has imposed heavy restrictions on residents in the north to slow down the spread of coronavirus as the death toll has risen to 366.

Father William Lister is a chaplain at St Mark's English Church in Florence. He told Premier Christian News the increasing number of cases and containment measures have had a "big impact" on people in the area.

He says, although churches in his region are closed for public worship they are keeping their doors open for prayer and guidance.

Father William says it's been a blessing to see churches throughout the country unite during this time of crisis in praying for and supporting those in need. 

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