Listen: Hope Afternoon's Ben McEachen chats with Kanishka Raffel about how the Anglican Church is serving local communities during lockdown
How did our churches help local communities during lockdown and what lessons did they learn from the experience? Hope Afternoons interviewed church leaders across Greater Sydney to find out how God’s people were loving their neighbours, sharing what they had to say each Sunday and Wednesday throughout October.
Kanishka Raffel is Archbishop of Sydney Anglican diocese.
Kanishka, what has your church learned during lockdown?
“I think we’ve all been learning a lot, haven’t we? Mostly that we are not in control. We knew that, of course, but this has really shaken us up and reminded us that God is the sovereign Lord. He’s the one in charge of everything.
“This has reminded us how important it is for us to be people of prayer. To rely on God and call on him to act in the world – and that’s been a good thing.”
How have Anglican churches been helping their local communities during the pandemic?
“Wonderfully, it has been possible to do a whole variety of things.
“It’s been wonderful to see lots of churches see that opportunity.
“Of course, we moved Sunday services online but a lot of community ministries also went online.
“I heard about play groups sending out packs to families in the community and keeping in touch via WhatsApp. I know ESL (English as Second Language) classes have moved online so that refugees, migrants and new people in Australia can continue to learn English. Even though they were not able to leave their homes, that’s been a wonderful way to help people.
“One of the churches in the city, that has a regular ministry of providing food and friendship to homeless people and rough sleepers, was not able to welcome them into the church like the normally would. So they prepared boxes of take-away food and they even organised a mobile vaccination bus. To make sure those people were looked after.”
Kanishka, can you offer us a word of encouragement?
“Recently, I was reading Psalm 31. It’s a psalm where [Old Testament king] David is really pouring out his heart of trouble and anguish to the Lord. But at one point he says, ‘Blessed be the Lord. He has wondrously showed me his steadfast love when I was in a besieged city’.
“Now, a besieged city is a city in lockdown.
“The question is: how did the Lord show David his love when he was in a besieged city? And he says in the psalm, ‘I will rejoice in your love because you have seen my affliction, and you have known the distress of my soul.’ Later on he says, ‘I was cut off from your sight but you heard my cry.’
“In other words, what David is saying is God showed his love because he saw David’s affliction, he knew his distress and he heard his cry.
“We have all been locked down, cut off from people we love and care about. David says: God knows. God sees. God hears.
“David rejoices in God’s love, experienced in this way, and he says in verse 14 of this psalm: ‘I trust in you, o Lord, my times are in your hands.’”
Please, pray with Kanishka.
Gracious God and loving heavenly Father,
We praise you that you are not locked down but reign over all things;
We praise you that you know the end from the beginning;
We praise you that our times are in your hands.
Father though we are locked down, cut off and isolated from one another,
You have drawn near to us in in your Son, the Lord Jesus
who comes to bring us forgiveness and new life.
You are close to the broken hearted and set your angels around those who fear you.
You come to us by your Spirit who lives in us, to help us in our prayers, and to bring forth in us the fruit that pleases you.
Hear our prayers for those who are sick, and for those who care for them:
Bring healing, strength and protection.
Hear our prayers for those who grieve:
Bring the comfort and hope of the gospel.
Hear our prayers for the anxious, the fearful, and the lonely:
Bring the assurance of your love and presence.
Hear our prayers for those under pressure, feeling stressed or overwhelmed:
Bring your peace that transcends understanding.
Loving God, would you help us reach out to one another,
in loving care and with the gospel of hope.
Provide for all people in their need, make us generous, and give us perseverance in our trials,
So that all may come to know of your love and your Son would be honoured in every community as Lord and Saviour.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Also in the ‘Greater Sydney Church Leaders Series’
- How the Salvation Army Church is Helping Their Community
- How C3 Sydney is Helping Their Community
- How the Baptist Church is Helping Their Community
- How the Coptic Orthodox Church is Helping Their Community
- How the Uniting Church is Helping Their Community
- How Australian Christian Churches is Helping Their Community
- How Greater West for Christ is Helping Their Community