These are challenging times for all of us.
Restrictions on travel, work, and groups create chaos and hardship.
The Church is not immune to the consequences and effects of the pandemic.
When it comes to community worship, congregations have gotten creative.
Pastors who care about their flock abide by the recommended social distancing rules.
Drive-through services, extra sessions to accommodate smaller crowds, and outdoor venues popped up overnight.
But most churches seem to have gone virtual in some form or another.
The small church I attend meets via Zoom every Sunday.
Others post on YouTube or use various platforms to live stream their services.
These venues are a gift to the worship communities.
But they are not perfect by any means.
The Church Reflecting the World
Like it always has, the Church reflects the plight of the world.
Churches, just like families everywhere, try to maintain some form of normalcy and routine.
Widespread use of screen devices made online church services a natural option.
But we all yearn for a return to how life used to be.
Unemployment created numerous communities of need this month.
Food Banks are stretched to the limit with additional families.
Churches that reflexively respond to crises face huge income losses, too.
We´re all in the same boat, and the ocean is a tempest at the moment.
This virus afflicts everybody, well beyond the patients, families, and front line workers.
Anxiety, powerlessness, anger, and grief are palpable.
The emotions are similar to what we see after the death of a loved one.
So, I reviewed how Jesus reacted to the news of a good friend´s demise for some guidance.
John 11:35 tells us how the news of Lazarus´ death affected Jesus.
Biblical scholars are inspired to write volumes about those two words.
But to me, the smallest verse in the Bible offers the biggest proof that Jesus was human,
And it´s okay for humans to weep under the weight of bad news or anxiety.
It is appropriate to get emotional about folks we lose... and our other losses, too.
Closed businesses, canceled events, lost opportunities, muted celebrations… all of it.
But remember that Jesus bounced back from his grief.
And He brought Lazarus back to life.
Eventually, we will bounce back and bring our world to life again, too.
No Need to Rush Things
This is not meant to promote a political or social argument.
But remember that all things happen in God´s perfect time.
God gifted us with science, technology, and the records of history to guide us.
And He gave His only Son so we can learn from His example.
We must continue to project love, kindness, empathy, generosity, and patience,
And willingly sacrifice for the good of our fellow man.
When the situation is overwhelming… it´s okay to weep.
As long as we remember who we are and turn to Him for strength.
Peter reminds us to "cast our worries on Jesus and remember,
“The God of all grace, after your period of suffering, will restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever.” (1 Peter 5:7, 10-11*)
*NLT, edited for emphasis