Ominous Covid ‘watch list’ is about care and not being reprimanded, says Sheffield reverend

As the Pandemic spike continues to rise, the people of Sheffield were informed that the city is on the ‘watch list’. Ominous! It makes you feel like we are on report from the headteacher and if we do anything else wrong, then we will be put in isolation.

Thursday, 17th September 2020, 4:45 pm
The Reverend Jonathan Haigh

For those who are more rebellious among us, this may feel like a red rag to a bull; how can I get away with continuing to flout the rules?

The whole idea of being on the ‘watch list’ feels so negative and maybe even frightening to think Sheffield may face another lock down.

And yet, the idea of watching out for people is completely the opposite in the Bible.

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In the Old Testament, it speaks about watchmen whose job was to stand in huge towers looking out from the city walls for any threat or danger and to make the city alert and ready.

The night shifts were particularly frightening when any danger was harder to see.

“How much longer until morning? When will the night be over?” (Isaiah 11vs21).

Their job was also to raise a shout when someone was coming to bring good news.

“The watchmen shout and sing with joy, for before their eyes they see the Lord returning.” (Isaiah 52vs8).

The emphasis of watching is on caring, protecting and looking out for the needs of everyone. The result is the city is a safe place for all.

Maybe this puts a new spin on being on the watch list?

It is actually for the wellbeing of every one that we are being watched and is a salient message there is a potential threat we need to be aware of.

This is about care and protection and not that we are being reprimanded.

If we look at it like that, I think I want to recommit myself to be a watchman for those around me. I want to play my part in watching over others in love and ensure, through my actions, people are kept safe and their needs are met.

At the heart of a faith in God is the promise God will never stop watching over us.

Psalm 121 is helpful for us to hold on to this promise.

“He who watches over you will not slumber”.

Wherever we may go and whatever we may face, this is a promise that lasts forever.

“The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore.”

The Reverend Jonathan Haigh is a minister at Victoria Hall Methodist Church, Sheffield city centre, and Greenhill Methodist Church – see for more information.