We can’t have church!
How do we reach people when we can’t have church?
The Bible says not to forsake gathering together! We should have church!
Seriously, we need to have church!
The new reality for many congregations is that they can’t meet in the usual way for the time being. Even those of us ahead of the curve that meet in homes and other venues have had to make adjustments. The question that is before many of us is, “How do we continue to be the Church to our community in times such as this?”
As I have been processing this, I think that there are a couple of responses. First, the broader Church in the world must now take seriously the priesthood of all believers. I love my calling as pastor. I was telling a friend the other day that I cannot imagine doing anything else. This is what I was made for. I feel God’s pleasure as I pastor. When I see the people gathered at the Lord’s table it fills me with joy unspeakable. Yet, the reality is that these people can gather, worship, study the Scriptures, and partake of the Eucharist without me. It is not me that they come for, it is the Christ for whom they come. Pastors, we must embrace the reality that we are the facilitators not the cause of spiritual growth. We must let go of our egos and trust that we have discipled well (and perhaps ask the question, “Have we discipled well?”) and that the people in our care can indeed do the things of the Church without us. Congregation, you can do this. Just like generations before you who have been forced out of their comfort zones and homes you too, can and will, continue walking in the faith. Take time in prayer, reading the Scriptures, and reaching out to one another and your pastors with questions.
Secondly, followers of Jesus, we have a long tradition of setting aside fear for our own well-being for the sake of our neighbors. We must take precaution. We must be wise. This looks like gathering in new ways to be sure that we are not taking needless risk and loving our neighbors well by doing our part to flatten the curve. It also means that we should take the lead in the service of those who are most vulnerable. This means, in this particular time, helping the elderly around you get what they need. Shop for them, check on them via phone calls, and helping them know they are not forgotten. It also means helping those who need childcare but can’t afford it. Finally and again, it means that we do everything within our power to help slow the spread of the virus. Yes, this may be uncomfortable for a time, but love your neighbor as yourself.
Thirdly, be intentional about helping to slow the spread of misinformation. Be careful about what you post on the internet. Bad information causes bad decisions. Let us be the people who lead the way with good information.
John says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:12)” Where is God in these times? God’s love is displayed in us. Let us love one another. What do we do when we can’t gather for worship on Sundays in the usual way? Love one another, love our neighbor, and love our enemy. In so doing we show the world God. Ultimately, we will learn that this is of even greater importance than singing some songs and listening to a book report. Our lives will become the gospel to a world that is hurting and in need of hope.
Share your stories of what you’re loving well or if you need help in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
If you need a virtual gathering to be part of please join us Sunday at 7 pm via Google Hangouts: https://meet.google.com/fhy-bjux-eif or 1 401-903-3852 PIN: 180 797 273#