Here is my latest for the Longview News-Journal
It is hard to miss the news coverage of the spread of COVID-19, aka “the Coronavirus.” It has been dominating the news, social media, and conversations with our family and friends for weeks.
News organizations such as the New York Times and Washington Post have made all their news articles and coverage regarding COVID-19 free for all readers. This is great because all people need to know what is happening in our own country and around the world. On the other hand, it is quite anxiety-producing. One minute there is a report of new cases in one part of the country, the next minute schools are closed for weeks at a time, and then restaurants are changing their procedures or some closing indefinitely.
Life as we once knew it is gone, and it might be a while before we return to homeostasis.
Nursing facilities, schools, churches, and civic organizations are having to make decisions regarding programs, festivals, and worship services. We are now trying to answer questions that have never been asked before. How do we ensure the safety of our loved ones during a pandemic? How do churches offer words of comfort, hope, peace, and blessings when we can not meet physically? What does worship look like if we are not all in one place together? How do we create worshipful communities in our homes in front of phone or computer screen?
In my congregation, we have wrestled with many of these questions. Finding an answer to them is not easy. Our congregation decided to cancel physical services for two weeks. It is the right thing to do given the recommendations of the CDC and other health officials. However, for many people church is a place to escape the ills of the world, to connect with God again, and to be refreshed for the week to come. We did not take these decisions lightly, rather we knew that our clergy had to do what was best for the entire community. For many people, this type of change in routine will not be an easy one.
People are unclear about what to do next, and that is scary. We find ourselves asking questions such as “How long will this go on? When will things get back to normal?”
If you have ever seen a snow globe you know that it contains some basic parts: a glass sphere, water, glitter, fake snow, and a house or figure at the bottom of the globe. When you shake a snow globe, the watery, glitter snow mixture swirls around in erratic patterns. The water pushes the glitter and the snow into spins and vortexes and it seems as if there is no stopping the power that is contained inside the glass sphere. However, inside the watery chaos, there is the house or the figure that is anchored to the bottom and it is immovable. It is being pelted by the glitter and the snow and is unphased.
Friends, we are in the swirling snow and glitter. We are being tossed around to the point where we do not know which way is up. There is no end in sight to this turmoil that we are experiencing, and we do not like that at all. We want our waters to be calm and if there is a bump in our journey then we will do what we can do to get things back to normal. Unfortunately, it is hard to see the end of this journey right now. It does not mean that we will be in this situation forever, but as of now, there are more unknowns than known.
In our snow globe of life, the house that is weathering this storm is our faith in God and the teachings of Jesus the Christ.
Our faith needs to hold strong during this new season of life. During the holy season of Lent, we are called to reorient our lives to a life centered on Christ’s journey to the cross. We are asked to examine our priorities and as a spiritual discipline focus on how our faith can be strengthened through the life, ministries, death and glorious resurrection of our Lord, Jesus the Christ. The Bible offers us messages of hope and comfort reminding us that God is in control and we are not and that God is always with us no matter where we may be.
As followers of Christ, I believe we are called to be the shining light of hope in a time that seems perilous. We need to cling to the words of the Psalmist who wrote: “God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble.”
During this time of isolation let us be in prayer for the doctors and nurses who are on the front lines of this outbreak. They are working long hours with little break time. On top of that like many working parents, they are struggling with finding care for their children while school is out of session. Let us pray for the school administrators and teachers who are having to make vital decisions about school closings and how to adapt to learning from face to face to online and at home. Let us pray for our state and national leaders that they will continue to heed the advice of the medical community and place the good of the citizens over partisan politics.
Let us pray for our community that we will weather this snow globe like storm; putting others before ourselves is the calling of a follower of Christ.
May we keep the faith and hold on to what is true. If we do then we will weather this snow globe storm.