Sunday morning, 11:36. Service is over, usually the church and the ante-room would swarm with members of our parish, all holding a cup of coffee or tea in their hands, nibbling on a cookie, chatting, discussing the sermon or more worldly matters.
Corona changed it all. All churches in our federal state of Baden-Württemberg are closed at least until the 19th of April by decree of the state government. The church administration has prolonged that date until the 15th of June. Hopefully it will not take that long.
But now we are charged with the task to keep up parish life, to keep contact with our parishioners. We have organized shopping support for the older ones. We have installed a Youtube channel. We have organized a daily oecumenical prayer on the balconies and in the gardens at 19:00 in the whole western part of our city – including ringing church bells. Volunteers are distributing information and a weekly spiritual impulse by our parson into post boxes. The meetings of our circle of elders are held online. Many more changes will come.
And in our city? The streets are nearly empty. A few people on their way to shopping necessary daily goods. Homeless not knowing where to go and what to do. In the parks “groups” of no more than two people are taking a stroll, keeping distance from each other – at least 1.5 meters – as decreed by the government. The first member of our circle of elders is lying in the intensive care unit of our university hospital – Corona. Hard changes getting gradually harder.
Some of our European neighbours are being hit even harder. Our thoughts and good wishes and prayers are with our friends and all the suffering and dying people of Italy, Spain and France.