Locked in, shut down, confined to our homes, consuming too much TV while eating comfort food and longing for fresh air and time away from the children. It is enough to make us crazy and finally understand what “cabin fever” is really like. But then again, this is not exactly how its playing out. People go out. They may not go down to the bar or out to eat at a restaurant, but people still go out. They go out for what are deemed essential services, places that stay open amid a pandemic.
While people are scrambling to cancel everything to avoid spreading this damned disease, pastors and laypeople are debating whether or not cancelling an in-person church service is wise or even faithful. First of all, and most wonderfully, no one, no disease, no calamity, no Devil or demons can cancel Jesus or His Church. He reigns just as powerfully and affectively as ever!
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.’”
One of the things we can all learn from this pandemic is how insanely connected our world is. An outbreak in Wuhan China can spread with frightening speed around the globe, shutting down whole countries and grinding international commerce to a halt. It is commerce that we need, commerce that plays with the stock market, which plays with our retirement plans, which effects our stress levels, which causes anxiety and fear. So, we stay home, but in staying home we fail to read a book or play card games with the family, no we turn on the internet and read the global news as we text our friends and facetime with our family members. We are bound up in the lives of others in ways never imagined a decade or so ago. We are more connected, more dependent, more aware of a world far outside of ourselves than ever before.
A little framed picture hangs to the right of the door exiting my study which leads into the sanctuary of the church. Most people leaving through that door probably never even notice it, but I do. Though it is small, behind the glass is a simple and eloquent prayer.
When I came out of Seminary I was a staunch liturgical dude. Don’t need no screens or even printed out service. The organ will do just fine. I got myself some incense and added a chasuble to my fine wardrobe. I wore my collar almost every day.
When I became a pastor, one of the questions asked of me in the ordination rite was if, “I would minister faithfully to the sick and dying, and demonstrate to the Church a constant and ready ministry of the Gospel?” To which I answered, “Yes, I will, with the help of God.” This meant my call as a pastor was not to stay within the walls of the church or to remain in my study, but it was, in part, to go to the sick and dying, go to those who could not come to church on their own, to those who needed the gifts of Christ brought to them.