In 1940 after France surrendered and Germany appeared to be on its way to conquering all of Europe if not the globe, Winston Churchill gave one of the world’s greatest speeches. He concluded, “Let us, therefore, brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’” It would not be the times when Britain was at peace and all was well. The finest hour would be what some would say was their lowest point, when the chips were down and they were on their heels, knocked down and scurrying for the strength to get back up!
I don’t know about you, but I had many plans laid out before this damn virus. My church was ready to launch a comprehensive ministry plan that would lay out God’s clear description of who we are in Christ and what we have been given to be and do in Chicago. Literally the day we were supposed to launch it with balloons, multimedia presentations and speakers, the pandemic was in full effect and we were fortunate to be able to meet at all. And no one was thinking about future plans, only the pandemic right in front of them.
I thought about dropping the whole deal. The Devil almost got me! He nearly caused me to think these were exceptional times and people needed a specific message focused on the 800-pound gorilla in the room as if the ministry campaign was for more normal times than this. Yet if that were true than it would be an absolutely foolish endeavor. If a Church’s understanding of itself and her mission is not adequate for times like these than it is wrong! This is not the strangest time to be church, this is the perfect time to be church. This is not an unusual time to talk about hope, peace and life in Christ, it is the perfect time! This is what we have been practicing for! This is what we have been talking about. Jesus did not come into a world that was doing ok, He came into a world that was in the midst of a pandemic of abuse and misuse, disease and death, sin and hatred. The Church was made for times like these because, ultimately, everyone lives in some sort of pandemic or catastrophe in their life whether it is the guilt of sin, the damage of divorce, the pain of loss or something worse. Jesus came for people in distress, worried about the future and burdened by their guilt.
This is not the time to hunker down (though it is fine to abide by guidelines in order to stop the infection). This is the time to claim the promises of Christ and go forward into the world with the Gospel of Jesus! The world needs Jesus. The world needs His Church and her message of peace and victory in the death and resurrection of God’s only Son.
So that after these dark times are gone, whether in the near future or Christ’s glorious advent, angels and saints may declare, “This was their finest hour!”