‘A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’ (John 13:34)
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)
Dear congregations, worship centres, ministries and agencies of the LCANZ,
Greetings in this Lenten season as we focus on the passion of our Lord, and the sacrifice of his life for the life of the whole world.
Right now, in Australia, New Zealand and across the globe, countries are increasing their measures to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. International travel is restricted. Large gatherings are banned, and several Australian states have declared states of emergency so that authorities can enforce these decisions. The situation is evolving as the virus spreads. For details about these actions in our two countries, please see the following national health websites, and comply with the instructions that apply to you:
- Australia: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
- New Zealand: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus
The policy of slowing down the spread of the virus is intended to help hospitals cope with high numbers of people needing medical care. As far as possible, we don’t want frontline health workers to become infected, and we want intensive care beds to be available to those who need them. Additionally, if the virus can be slowed sufficiently, it may even give time for medical science to develop and distribute a vaccine.
Apart from causing a public health emergency, this outbreak is beginning to cause a massive economic shockwave. As you will have seen and heard on the news, the Australian government has announced extensive measures that it hopes will stimulate the economy and protect jobs. These are good intentions, yet a global recession is likely, and recovery could be slow. Before very long, many people may have insufficient income to meet their needs. So they will look for help to governments, charities, churches, families and friends.
In such circumstances, Jesus’ command to us to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’ reminds us:
- not to be complacent, to accept the necessary inconvenience and disruption for the greater good, and to willingly give up some of our regular privileges and freedoms to protect those among us whose lives are at greatest risk; and
- to support government and community efforts to meet the needs of economically vulnerable people, even at cost to ourselves.
I urge us all to prepare ourselves mentally and spiritually for what looks like a difficult time ahead. This could mean much more for us than 14 days’ home isolation, which can be difficult enough in itself. Some people are at a higher risk of developing a serious illness should they become infected, and some people might not be able to pay their bills because of loss of work or other factors. We need to prepare to express our care and concern for those at risk in these ways in the communities of which we are a part. I say this simply because people much better placed than me are providing such warnings as these events play out.
What an important time this is for Christians to practise love, patience and tolerance! God grant us the faith, hope and love we need to be kind, caring and generous toward our neighbours. Let them see in us something of our hope and faith in Jesus our Lord, and the assurance that God is most certainly with us in every situation.
Let us pray for the many people in need at this time:
- for local and national authorities in our own countries and elsewhere tasked with formulating and implementing public health measures and measures to address the virus’s economic impact;
- for the citizens of our countries, that they will listen to and heed the instructions of the authorities and remain calm, caring for the most needy;
- for hospital staff caring for COVID-19 patients (and other patients too of course!), and for medical scientists working on a vaccine;
- for efforts to relieve feelings of isolation experienced by people who are confined to home;
- for people who are worrying about their businesses and jobs; and
- for ourselves and our fellow citizens, that our actions towards each other will be guided by care and concern.
For the latest LCA update on the coronavirus for LCA/NZ members, go to
For worship advice and prayer resources go to
For those in Queensland, your district has released a local coronavirus response – go to https://qld.lca.org.au/news/latest-news/.
The LCA is planning regular ongoing bulletins to update you on developments in our church while this situation lasts. Also please watch for a brief video presentation that should be available to you by 20 March. The video can be shared at worship and with your congregational members.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor John Henderson
Bishop, Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand
Adelaide, South Australia
16 March 2020