Last Sunday (22 March) Christians could gather in churches for public worship and be taught God’s word.

Provided, of course, there were no more than 100 people and that social distancing was practiced (1 person per 4 square meters and 1.5 metres apart).

All of that changed on Sunday night when the Federal Government announced that religious gatherings in places of worship would be restricted in their operation to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The detail of what that meant in practice was left to the individual states and territories. They have announced, in different terms, that places of worship “must not operate”, “must not be open” or “must close” from yesterday (Monday 23 March). Exceptions apply for weddings and funerals.

One thing is clear:

Sunday worship services cannot now take place in public places of worship in Australia.

The way we do church has changed in ways unseen for a millennia.

As we see often in scripture, light shines forth in the darkness. As church buildings darken, God's people shine their light.

With the health and economic impacts of this virus now being felt severely by tens of thousands of Australians, it is a time for Christian compassion, grace and prayer.

Let’s continue to pray and worship in family and online community, especially for those most effected, for our leaders and health practitioners.

"'And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength'… ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’"

(Mark 12:30-31)

What are the limitations on meeting as church communities? There are variations between the different states and territories.

Join nationwide prayer at 19:00hrs (7pm) daily in your timezone.