Nobel Peace Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018, including during the Ebola crisis) writes:
Dear fellow citizens of the world,
… It does not mean that we are on our own, every country for themselves. On the contrary, it is the sign of a communal response, that border closures make a difference. Her letter concludes:
I have full faith in the relentless spirit of the individual, a conviction that leaders emerge in times of crisis at every level of society, and that our religious and communal differences pale in comparison to our collective belief in the power of prayer, and our respective faith in God.
As we all hunker down in the next few weeks, I pray for the health and well-being of our global citizens, and I ask that everyone remember that our humanity now relies on the essential truth that a life well-lived is a life in the service to others.
[Note: you can hear her read part of this letter on https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w172x1gdf07d89j from about 05:30 to 09.00. The unedited text (also on the BBC website) includes: ]
Lord, all-seeing, always present, you call us to live in community.
In this year when the community of Oberammergau, Germany would have celebrated their decision to lock down to stop plague spreading, we give thanks for that understanding of community which is about keeping one another safe. We give thanks for visionaries such as the community of Eyam, United Kingdom, the Nobel peace prize winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine.
In our prayers we remember those from whom the eyes of the world have moved:
The people of Yemen starving as many air raids strike Sanaa this week,
The displaced and the dispossessed especially those in refugee camps. We give thanks for those refugees, in groups like Help from Refugees in Switzerland, who put their much-needed skills at the disposal of their new communities.
The rough sleepers with no safe space to obey the rules of lockdown in Lagos, Nigeria, and many cities worldwide.
The migrant workers, especially those in India where a lock-down was imposed at 4 hours notice, and Nepalese are stuck at the border.
The people who are more persecuted than ever because of the perception that no one will notice; especially the Palestinian community of Khirbet Ibziq in the northern Jordan Valley. Their existing community clinic and generator were demolished by the Israeli army and building supplies for an emergency field clinic destroyed or confiscated.
We pray for those who think no one will notice when they pilfer hospital supplies, buy up and hoard goods needed by carers, nurses, doctors, ambulance crews and others. We give thanks that those called to work in all these essential areas still work despite knowing they are unprotected and will probably be taken ill. Remind us that it is not enough to call them heroes but to do what we can to support them. We give thanks for donations of real equipment from film sets, as from the sets of “Casualty” and “Holby City” in England.
We pray for those who are harmed, such as those caught in the shelling in Tripoli, Libya, as warring factions seek to hide the lack of a ceasefire while the eyes of the world turn inward.
For farmers and growers, the world is not standing still, for researchers too. As crops are planted with no knowing if there will be hands to harvest we pray for the springtime and the harvest. As news breaks that a blood test is being developed to determine early signs of cancer we give thanks that people still go about the work despite fear, sadness, and anxiety.
Remind us that while the sound of silence, the sound of bird song, and the sound of the wind and the rain, beguile us in the newly revealed quiet; our environment is still not safe. Birds, wildlife, and plants need our continuing protection and care.
All things praise you, glorious Lord,
great Creator, powerful Word,
omnipresent Spirit, now
at your throne, we humbly bow,
lift our hearts in praise to you:
so we praise you, Lord, anew.
[George William Condor – 1821-1874]