In the church we are used to speaking about the ramifications of the law and its impact in our lives. We speak about how God uses the law to show us our sin, to punish our sinfulness and to be a guide as we make decisions and chart a course forward. The law, in this way is all around us, our lives are saturated in it. Sometimes it hits us more deliberately than others, but it is always there.

We have all seen them. Perhaps you are one of them, one of those peculiar individuals we see driving down the road in their own car all by themselves wearing a facemask to combat the Coronavirus. Of course, we know the benefits of wearing a face mask in public. In some places it is not only suggested but required, not only for employees of essential businesses but those who choose to use those businesses as well. But alone in the car seems to be a bizarre and unreflective take on things.

One of the things this current pandemic has done is highlight the disjointed nature of the individual Christian. We are of this world, we have responsibilities amongst our neighbors, a duty to serve, protect and care for others. Yet, we are a peculiar people who have their eyes on the horizon, looking off to something beyond this age. Our hope is not rooted in the outcomes of the here and now but in the promises of Christ. These are promises which have us long for something that has not yet been revealed to us. So, as we want to love our neighbor and protect them from this virus, or to help them keep their business during the lockdown, we also stand with an unmovable spirit before the specter of fear and death knowing this age is temporary and will fade as the withering grass.

As we are beginning to see the signs of our economy opening up (well not here in CA, but in some others states), and as we catch glimpses of life beyond this crisis, our thoughts begin to settle again on the future. I, for one, have been thinking a lot about the lessons we will learn from COVID-19. What will be the takeaway for the Christian congregation that tried to navigate the waters of uncertainty and fear while striving to be faithful to their confession and mission?

For years the call of the pastor has had an element that always plays out behind the scenes, something most people assume a pastor does but never really know what it is about. It is wrapped-up in one of the vows he makes on ordination, the one where he promises to, “Minister faithfully to the sick and dying and demonstrate to the Church a constant and ready ministry centered in the Gospel.”

They said it was for our best interest. They said that it was how we demonstrated love for our neighbor, especially those weaker than us. Not to mention, it was the law of the land, it was what was expected, it ought to be obeyed for the general welfare of all. So with a particular American piety and sense of righteousness, the 18th Amendment banned the manufacture, transportation and sale of intoxicating liquors. It brought to this great country the long-forgotten era known as prohibition.

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.

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.’”