Read the thoughts of our Club Chaplain, Paul Johnson, who insists of the importance of the community pulling together as we all try to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are, undoubtedly, living in unprecedented times and our country, in fact our world, is learning how to live differently for an extended period of time. Listening to the words of the various leaders of our society, you can’t help but feel that times are uncertain.
I went to the supermarket late on Saturday night to do a ‘big shop’ for the week. Two things struck me: firstly, the shop was packed at 11:45pm and, secondly, so many of the shelves were completely empty. Panic buying has led to a situation where some people will have to go without the things that we all take for granted at any other time.
The picture feels bleak in many ways, but speaking as Club Chaplain, I want to remind each of us that there is a future and it is good. I keep hearing stories of people in our community who are selflessly serving others. I hear of people who are writing encouraging cards and pushing them through the doors of neighbours who may be alone. I hear of people collecting shopping for others who can’t get out of the house and leaving it on their doorstep for them to collect. I hear of social media being used to encourage people who are feeling low. I hear the typical northern humour ringing through – lifting the mood of people with whom we come into contact, even if that contact is over a text or a phone call. Each of these things are practical demonstrations of love – to be technical, of ‘agape’ love. That’s the Greek word for love which describes an all encompassing love and service of others – ‘God’s love’, if you will.
I commend the work of our Foundation in the way that activity has gone on, which will ensure that the lonely have friends and that the hurting have support. I encourage each and every one of us to look out for our family, friends and neighbours in the coming weeks. Sport is so important in creating community and we pride ourselves on being a family club. That’s not just those who are employed by the club, but includes our supporters near and far. Let’s show the world that we are different – that we will look to serve rather than insist on being served. Let’s be safe, but let’s also be creative in the ways that we look out for one another.
When the call comes, as it will, and Super League returns, how good will it be to celebrate together?! The fact is that community is still present when it’s impossible to meet in person. Let’s continue to build that community in these challenging days.
Please know that, every day, I pray for our club and our supporters. I have no satisfactory answer to why these kind of things happen. The problem of suffering has been debated by theologians for centuries. What I do believe, however, is that we are loved and we are called to show love. Why am I so confident that the future remains bright? It’s because I know that our club and our supporters are examples of how to show that love to one another.
I leave you with the words of St Paul: “Now these three things remain: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.”
Let’s live those words out together.