Being cautious and considerate of your community in no way indicates a lack of faith.
Case in point: A religious group in Korea insisted that their congregants press on and attend church functions regardless of common sense precautions or government restrictions. That same organization has now been identified as the epicenter of the spread of the thousands of cases of COVID-19 in their country including the tragic deaths of some their own members.
I am not saying it is wrong to still meet – particularly if your church has the facilities and capabilities to offer thorough disinfection before and every gathering and people are not packed in too closely together. But please don’t judge faith levels – even your own – according to whether or not you decide to hold or attend gatherings right now.
The Jesus who told us “In this world you would have trouble” would not have us proudly prance around as if we’re immune. Rather, our Maker would have us walk humbly and love deeply with sensitivity about the situation and dependence on HIM rather than rely on our own stubborn ability to “press on with business as usual no matter what”.
Perhaps the realization that we are not in control begets the greatest faith of all.
What if closed church doors prompt a remembrance that being the Church has nothing to do with a building? What if the Coronavirus Pandemic teaches us that God’s love extends way beyond just those who gather in buildings or have organized programs? Perhaps that is the good that will come out of this horrible virus. Didn’t someone say once that “all things work together for good?”
So let’s give each other in the faith community grace as we navigate how to be a faith community in the midst of this pandemic. I mean, it’s the first time in most of our lifetimes we’ve had to deal with anything like this. There’s no script here.
What’s the worst thing that could happen as far as faith communities go? We get even more controlling and “judgy”.
The choice of whether this empowers us to love more like our Maker or further impedes our ability to genuinely help those He died for is ours.
Words like “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10a) have always been fascinating to me.
But it has only recently that I have been getting a better understanding of the importance of being still.
You see, I have recently moved to a little apartment that overlooks a river. This river has been teaching me much about life, our Maker-God, and the importance of being still.
In the picture I took this morning, a part of the river is stirred and far from still because of storms moving into the area. Another part of the river is calmer – much more still. Rhetorical question: Which part of the river is more clearly reflecting the light?
Maker God, continue to teach me these lessons on how to be still so I can better reflect the light of Your life to help brighten and warm the cold dark places of our world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
So… the other evening I was “breaking bread” (actually it was sushi – but same concept) with a few friends from my faith community.
As we sipped our wine and enjoyed half-priced Sushi night, we began to talk about worship. One of my friends mentioned how very much she enjoyed participating in communion every week and that even watching the others in our congregation being served the Sacraments is such a Holy Moment.
Another friend chimed in that truly Holy Communion is one of those “thin places“. Of course, we all were immediately intrigued and asked him to explain more about “thin places”.
He explained how C.S. Lewis (one of my very favorite thinkers and writers) would write and speak of the thin places – where heaven and earth intermingle. I made the comment that I wish we could just live in that thin place – where not so much divides and keeps us from connecting to God and each other.
It’s just that I’m not always quite sure how to get there – much less stay there. I’ve experienced thin places throughout my life – from early childhood memories of my Mom and church pianist playing beautiful songs about the Blood of Jesus while communion was being served and wondering how wordless moments could be so powerful to breathtaking nature encounters when I’ve been absolutely certain that Maker painted a particular sunrise or sunset just for me.
But, even in the much-mystery that clouds our every day lives and deters us from entering those thin spaces – I will still seek to learn what an abiding life (see John 15) – that sweet communion with the Maker of our souls -truly looks like.
Publishing: Fair Trade Global Songs / AustinFrenchMusic / Foundational Songs (BMI) (admin. at essentialmsuicpublishing.com); Fairtrade Tunes / From The Void (SESAC) (admin. at essentialmsuicpublishing.com); Lost Slipper Music / Prize Pig Music (SESAC). All rights reserved.
Writer(s): Austin French, Kayliann Lowe, Douglas Lowe, Kyle Lee and Jacob Harrison
Listen. Be still. Be present. Be aware. (This is not an easy task in today’s world filled with these little screens in our hands).
And…. Don’t limit the way He speaks to a sermon, Bible verse, or some seemingly theological insight. He may speak to you through a friend, a movie, the top 40 on the radio, or -most often- a quiet whisper to your own soul.
Remain consistent. Sync your every step with the Maker of your soul.
And notice…. I didn’t say (nor did the Bible) that this is a two-step plan to happiness or to the Westernized world’s version of success.
God’s best may not feel good in the moment. It may not look good or smell right or put you in the limelight.
But it will create a stronger connection to our Creator and to His most favorite creation, other people.
And… in the end, isn’t that all that matters?
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Jesus, Matthew 22:37-39
Never ever stop living out of love or giving out of love. Loving itself is not unhealthy, or codependent, or approval addiction or such. But please, please STOP hinging your own well-being on how well your love is received. Yes That, my friends, is the road to a very dark place. Please don’t go there. Take it as a gentle warning from one who has been there and almost didn’t make it back. ♥️
Quote source: “The Thriver Model of Unconditional Love” by Melanie Tonia Evans