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Disconnection 'destroys us': Archbishop of Canterbury leads Church of England's first 'virtual' service

by Heather Preston

The Archbishop of Canterbury led the first national online service for the Anglican Church on Mothering Sunday, stressing the importance of Christians loving their neighbours in times of crisis.

It comes after the Church of England's decision to ban public worship amid efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The online service which was broadcast via Facebook featured prayers, hymns recorded by St Martin's Voices from St Martin-In-The-Fields, and a sermon.

In a pre-recorded message from the Crypt chapel at Lambeth Palace, The Most Rev Justin Welby asked the Lord to "open our hearts and minds to hear today in this time of trouble, what you are saying to us."

"And to find your hope and see your life afresh," he added.

After a reading from Luke 9:25-27, Welby implored Christians to reach out to their communities in love.

"Many of us are disconnected from our roots and now have to find ways to make a place of safety and welcome for other people at a difficult time," he said.

"The temptation is to pull up the drawbridge and just look after ourselves. That's the kind of thing that leads to panic buying, to growing fear and to spiritual and emotional as well as physical isolation, it destroys us."

Welby reminded Christians of the hope to be found in Christ and the blessings that come from serving others.
"How do we find consolation when fear and alarm, struggle and suffering strikes us? All consolation comes from God through being loved, and it comes to us abundantly so that we can give it to others," he said.

"As we love the poor, give to a food bank, call on someone who is isolated, do their shopping, pray with and for them from a distance, we will find that we are deeply consoled by our own gift of consolation."


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