21 Jul Finding Beauty in the “Hard”
July 21, 2020
Some days it seems hard to imagine, but the novel coronavirus will not always be shaping and reorienting our lives like it is today. At some point in the future, at a time still unknown, we will go to church or work or school, attend a sporting event, ride the metro, get on an airplane, enjoy eating out, take a vacation, or go to the grocery store without fear. We will spend time with family and friends in close quarters. We will visit people in the hospital again. Choirs will sing! We will “pass the peace” and actually touch one another. (Yes, Lord, let it be so!) In the words of the ancient Persian adage, “this too shall pass.”
But we are not there yet. Covid-19 is still very much with us and looks to remain with us for several months to come. And this reality, which leaves us with so much uncertainty and angst, raises two very important concerns. First, what are we doing during these months to stay spiritually vital and connected to one another as a faith community? Several weeks ago, I asked you to be intentional about reaching out to people, especially to those who live alone and risk greater isolation. In typical Calvary fashion, I heard wonderful stories of people doing just that, and funny thing—when folks called people they didn’t know especially well, that outreach made quite an impression.
I am reminding you of this need to connect because of a lengthy conversation I had with my mother last night. Early in the pandemic, people in her church were regularly calling her, knowing that as a widow in her 80’s, her movements and contacts had been greatly restricted. As the weeks have stretched into months, however, she now hears from fewer and fewer fellow parishioners. Even in the grocery store or the pharmacy or the post office, people avoid eye contact and certainly avoid talking, so that there are some days when no one speaks to her. Fortunately, my mom is a terrific one for picking up the phone herself, but her reflection of how interactions have changed since March was a helpful, if painful reminder of how vital it is that we are diligent about caring for one another.
A second important concern comes in the form of a question. When we look back on 2020, what will we have to say about our experience of this historic, global pandemic? What will we want to say about our experience? This is a great question for us as individuals and as the church. What are we doing with this time? Some people seem to be in a “hunker down and endure it” mode. But is it possible that we could use this unexpected season to discover new gifts or creative ways of doing routine tasks? Might we focus on our physical well-being in a fresh way, perhaps by learning to cook healthier meals or taking a daily walk? Are there projects around the house that we’ve put off, sometimes for years, that we could finally tackle?
As the church, how are we reimagining our call to be followers of Christ in the midst of Covid-19? What does it mean for us to be salt and light right now—when we worship virtually and our familiar and beloved ways of “being church” aren’t available to us? Are we still using “people eyes” to see the most needy among us? Are we actively expressing our thanks to those who work to ensure that our basic needs are met—and are we praying for them? Do we show our love and respect for others by following medical protocols to limit the spread of the virus? How are we continuing to function as the Body of Christ, even when the parts of our “body” are physically separated?
I don’t know about you, but I do not want to look back at 2020 as a “wasted” year. Every day is a gift from God, a gift too precious to squander. So today, let’s celebrate! Even among the challenges and difficulties, there is beauty. Forgiveness. Laughter. Grace. Creativity. Music. Smiles. And most of all, a God who loves us.
Yours for the Kingdom,