The withdrawal of the Precious Blood from Anglican congregations due to coronavirus seems to lack consistency when it comes to the way we handle different types of risks.
At time of writing, the death count among those positive for coronavirus in the UK is published as 21*. And without a miracle, it is clear that the number of deaths is going to rise, though hopefully we will come out of this and find fewer people have actually died of it than of the seasonal flu. (This doesn’t mean I’m not aware this particular epidemic presents some peculiar challenges not involved in the case of the flu). Taking sensible precautions against infection has a role in helping the death count to stay low.
The hope that the numbers will be statistically low does not mean those deaths do not matter. I am sorry for people’s loss, and I will be praying for those who have died of it and for all others who have died in the last few weeks (of whatever cause), that they may rest in peace and rise in glory.
However. 1,784 people died on the roads in 2018, and those deaths are not less important.
When driving a car, you don’t drink too much alcohol, you fasten your seatbelt, and you refrain from using a hand-held mobile phone. At least, I hope people do and don’t.
Do people say: “is my journey absolutely necessary?” or “It is incredibly selfish for anyone to make a car journey because it might put others at risk.”
No. We take sensible safety precautions and we don’t hesitate to make the most trivial of journeys.
But when it comes to the Precious Blood of Christ, who resigned His equality with God to be born Incarnate, to live, suffer horribly, and die, in order to give us that most precious and unbelievable gift and the life and love that is received through It, do we take sensible precautions – make perhaps a few careful changes to exactly what we are doing – and carry on receiving?
No. We say: “it isn’t necessary for validity.” “It’s selfish to ask to go on receiving because it might put others at risk.” We treat Him as if receiving Him in the completeness of His gift was an emotional indulgence – was more of an emotional indulgence than a car journey for a Saturday afternoon trip to a tea-room.
How can we respond like that if we believe what we say?
N.B. I would ask anyone responsible for the policy or for implementing it to appreciate that this is a cry of perplexity and anguish, and an appeal to rethink the importance of what is being denied – to Him, as well as to us – it is not an accusation of deliberate hypocrisy. I come out as INFJ on Myers-Briggs: I genuinely tend to be both coldly technical and passionately emotional at the same time.
*Lest I spread alarm and despondency: this is as yet a tiny fraction (0.018) of those known to have it in the UK, and as they are testing the more serious cases (i.e. the people more likely to die), the number of people in the UK who have got it who have actually died is almost certainly comparatively tiny. Not that deaths don’t matter. Just that it is not a cause for panic.