Religious leaders: take time to reflect
Services to celebrate Easter will go ahead despite Covid-19 church closures, Bermuda's spiritual leaders promised yesterday.
The Right Reverend Nicholas Dill, the Anglican Bishop of Bermuda, said this Easter would be “unlike any other that we have ever experienced”.
He added: “We should take this moment to remember, that what we have enjoyed and taken for granted, was not the experience of our forebears, nor is it the experience of many around the world, for whom being a Christian comes with a health warning of persecution and trouble, especially at Easter.
“Moreover, there are many in our world and in our community for whom being shut in is not a momentary thing but a daily lived experience.”
Bishop Dill said that he was amazed at how churches across the island had “stepped up” over the coronavirus crisis to help supply meals to people in need and to check up on people by phone and e-mail.
He added that churches had also embraced online platforms to broadcast services, and well as daily reflections and other messages.
Bishop Dill said that Anglican Easter Day services would be streamed on YouTube and Facebook and broadcast on the radio.
He added that, although technology had made church closures easier to cope with, it had its limits.
Bishop Dill explained: “A virtual hug is not the same.
“Our hearts are full for those who are struggling and the inability to be present in a physical way.”
He emphasised: “Behind all of this is the truth that the church is not the building in which we meet — it is the people, the body of Christ — who are united in spirit.
“We are relearning this truth as we seek to be the church outside of our walls — in our love, prayers and acts of service.”
Bishop Dill said that his role in the Covid-19 crisis was to “encourage, bring hope, pray for and speak to people”.
He added: “This time will pass, and I am sure there are many lessons to be learnt in retrospect. But, for now, my aim is to help people look out beyond themselves to focus on others, to reconnect with family and community and to look up to God, who is a very present help in times of trouble.
“Such times bring out the best and worst in people.
“My aim is to live by and encourage the best in people and to say to those who are struggling — please reach out for help.”
The Most Reverend Wesley Spiewak, the Catholic Bishop of the Hamilton Diocese, said Catholic churches had held online services for the past few weeks.
He added: “It seems from the number of people who are viewing that we are able with the online Mass to reach out to a larger population than we do during the ordinary time that we have people in churches.”
Bishop Spiewak said that important services for Catholics to mark Easter started on Thursday night — Holy Thursday, the commemoration of the Last Supper.
He added that further services, which would be livestreamed would take place today, Holy Saturday, and tomorrow, Easter Day.
Bishop Spiewak said that he had also posted gospel homilies every day on Facebook and that the videos were about more than the teachings of the church.
He explained: “I really want, somehow, to be present in the lives of my people, and somehow bring them comfort and peace.
“I try to be smiling, I try to be encouraging, I try to be positive.
“I just try to reach out to the people and just bring them a little bit of peace and positive thinking, despite the negativity of the situation that we are living in. I believe that is the message that we should be giving to our people.
“I'm not looking for answers to the questions about why do we have the coronavirus, where is God in this — I believe it's too emotional.
“I just prefer to focus simply on the message that somehow is going to encourage them to see that, beyond the clouds, there is still sun shining.”
Kenneth Manders, the president of the Bermuda Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, said that his churches were also using online platforms to stay in touch.
He added: “We're trying our very best to stay connected with our members, and with our community, with our ministries, as best as we possibly can.”
Mr Manders said that the lockdown provided a good opportunity for people to strengthen their relationship with God, as well as with their families and community.
He added the message he would deliver in his Easter Sunday sermon was one of hope.
Mr Manders explained: “It shows that Christ's resurrection is God's confirmation, that in spite of the intimidation of our present situation, he has no hesitation securing our salvation.”
He added: “The story is not over, the future is not failing, fears are not final, dreams are not done. Christ is available.
“We're not fearful — we're trying to be faithful. This, too, shall pass. We'll get through this.”