I think this issue of The Beacon may have the distinction of being the latest to go to press, as I’m typing this on the morning of February 12th. You may have wondered if you were even going to receive one at all! Like many things over the past year, the delay was mostly due to the need to prepare for a distanced, but faithful and observant Lent. Being the church in a pandemic in my experience has been trying to discern which of our ministries is most essential and then finding creative, achievable ways to overcome the obstacles in between and laying aside those that can wait until a more appropriate time.
Unless you’re deeply involved in church leadership, this process hopefully remains mostly imperceptible to you in the final result, but I can assure you that even the smallest decisions often involve pursuing several options, including several ‘dead ends’ when a theoretical solution doesn’t practically pan out. I’m eager for the time to come when we’ll be able to safely ease distancing restrictions and resume a fuller life together, but for now my primary focus as your shepherd right now is simply this: survival and resilience. Yup. Treading water. At least for the time being.
While mere survival is not always the most admirable goal for which a Christian should aspire under normal circumstances, the pandemic has convinced me that sometimes it’s the right one. Sometimes I can find myself feeling like a failure if I’m not meeting with success like that of those first Apostles as recounted in early church history in the Acts of the Apostles and other biblical as well as extra-biblical sources. I mean, while I’m not sure what I’d do if I suddenly found a crowd of 3,000 people show up for church on a Sunday morning even if we could gather, I confess that not being actively engaged in more outreach makes me feel ashamed, especially because I know how much the good news we proclaim could help those who are struggling to hang on to hope in these trying times. Choosing between competing goods can be tough, but necessary.
When I sit in self-judgment, I suspect I am much harder on myself than Jesus would be. I know that I’m less willing to accept my limitations and foibles than Jesus would be. Ecclesiastes reminds us that there’s a time and a season for every purpose under heaven, including a time to hunker down and hold the line. This is how I understand my call and my role right now: shepherd of the flock as we traverse this dark valley.
The good news is: it’s never been easier for you to do what I cannot. All you have to do is click ‘share.’ If you’re watching the Sunday worship service, just click share on social media. Your friends who don’t want to see it will just scroll past and you might be surprised at who sticks around. Share church posts on your social media, invite a friend to a watch party of a service. Try it. I know that a lot of our folks are following our Facebook posts and even liking them, but I also know that hardly any of you are sharing our posts. Please help us get the word out: even in a pandemic, there is LIFE and LOVE among us.