I came across this cartoon yesterday which illustrates perfectly how the church should respond in times of crisis.
We may have closed the doors and left the building but God hasn’t gone anywhere and the church is still on the move.
For some pretty obvious reasons, we may not be as visibly active as we might like. I know, though, that a lot of you are keeping in touch with one another, are praying for those in need and are ready to get involved when and where you can. It’s certainly not easy to have to undergo this enforced period of what looks like inaction, when we are used to being very busy.
In some respects, the position we are in today reminds me of what the early church must have been like. They represented a minority belief, couldn’t worship publicly but were strongly committed to a cause that affected every part of their lives. They were also convinced that faith was something that was personal but it was also to be expressed and shared.
We have to face reality: we can’t avoid the seemingly indiscriminate nature of the virus and the concern it is causing for so many. We haven’t walked this path before and we hope and pray that it will soon be over and we won’t have to travel this way again. How do we make sense of it all?
When Paul wrote to the early church, he was trying to help them make sense of their faith in a world that seemed to be falling apart. Sounds familiar?
… we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all–surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4: 7 – 9)
We may feel fragile: we do feel helpless and we often can’t make any sense of what is going on. (Admittedly some of this is not helped by messages from churches who see this more in terms of God’s judgment than anything else: it’s not a view to which I subscribe).
Yet in the midst of this uncertainty there stands the one in whose hands are all the corners of the earth: the all-knowing, all powerful, ever present, all loving God.
Emmanuel. The prophecy of Isaiah: God with us. Not with someone else, with us. For us. Alongside us. Within us. What a wonderful thing to know – even in self isolation there’s always someone who will cross the threshold, come into your room and be with you.
Let’s rest in God, making that our work for some time today.