The last several days have been like nothing I have ever experienced. On Friday morning, I wrote a rather lengthy, detailed plan of how our church would be responding to COVID-19. It included specifics regarding precautions we were taking, what worship would look like, and even the way we would be taking the offering. We posted it to the website, sent it out via e-news and posted it to social media.
I was rather happy with it.
A few hours later, it was all irrelevant. It became clear that our church would need to close its doors on Sunday in order to do our part in ensuring the well-being of our congregation and community. It was a difficult decision on principle, made even more complicated by the fact that none of us on staff had ever live-streamed anything before. Our camera was 95% installed, but not complete, and had never been tested.
The next 24 hours were truly inspiring.
Favors were called in, and all hands were on deck as on-the-job-training was taken to whole new level. Granted, what we were able to pull off was not perfect, but it enabled us to reach over 400 people on a day that the church could have chosen to be silent. I have never been more thankful for a group of people than I am for the staff that I get to work with every day.
The days following have been equally inspiring. My inbox has been filled with messages from members of our church offering to help in exciting new ways. My days have been filled with phone calls and chat room meetings with both staff and laity about opportunities to help the most vulnerable among us. The ideas and the passion that have been born out of those conversations reflect a level of compassion and love that is befitting of a group of people that have been transformed by the love of Jesus. You’ll get to see some of those ideas in today’s e-news!
“These are unprecedented times”, is a phrase I have come across frequently in recent days. To be without precedent means that it is difficult to predict what will happen next, and how our world will respond. It has been interesting to watch that response. Many have responded by doing all they can to ensure their own well-being: stocking up on everything they can get their hands on, ranging from hand sanitizer to guns and ammunition. Lines forming outside the grocery store an hour before opening and armed guards stationed in front of the toilet paper aisle indicate the level of fear that has gripped a good portion of our population.
Many have responded in fear. But not everyone. As I woke up this morning, wondering what news would break today, I found myself saying a prayer of thanksgiving that I get to lead a congregation of people who are responding differently. The church of Jesus Christ has the freedom to respond differently, because we don’t have to worry about tomorrow. We know who holds the future. We know who holds us.
Yes, we are living in unprecedented times: a time of unprecedented unity; unprecedented courage; unprecedented compassion; unprecedented faith. I’m proud to be your pastor!