“For such a time as this…” This scripture from the fourth chapter of the book of Esther has been used to encourage and imply that one is equipped for the moment, that she and he was made for this hour. But, is the Church in North America really ready for COVID-19? With the cancellation of worship service as usual, many of our members are grappling with how to fellowship when you cannot meet face-to-face.
You wanted Bedside Baptist Church. Well, the doors of the church are open. I will be your liturgist for the foreseeable future. Welcome!
Yes, it is “Coronavirus Sunday” and you cannot turn to your neighbor to greet them. Instead, give them space, at least six feet or it could be deadly. The virus has changed our living conditions but the holy days remain. We are still in the season of Lent and giving up things we had not intended. Unloading our lives of self- imposed weights and burdens so that we can get closer to Jesus, at least three steps closer to Jesus—instead of taking two steps back. Chocolate was on the list of things we would deny ourselves but now we are filling up grocery carts with toiletries, baked goods and water.
Creature comforts, we will now need the chocolate to survive and don’t forget caffeine. We had crossed it off the list; now, we cross our hearts that we will give up something—just not this. Not now!
Self- quarantined to contain the spread of this deadly virus, Christians struggle with the command and the compulsion to gather. We are a body with many members, mystically connected through the body of Christ. His is a corporeal religion. Thomas had his doubts until Jesus showed him his wounds (cf. John 20.24-29).
But, how will we believe when we cannot even show our faces?
And how can we hear the preacher if we cannot leave our homes? How will we hear the preacher if the church has no audio- visual team? How can we hear the preacher if we are without the Internet or the church does not offer livestream? For persons with smaller budgets and for smaller churches, this is getting deep.
Enter Bedside Baptist Church. Because you and I are learning how to worship by ourselves, as a family or with a small group– no more than ten persons, please. Churches are getting smaller but going deeper. At least for me, this sounds like the early churches talked about in the book of Acts, whose members went from house to house for food and fellowship. While we cannot travel, we can share in the fact that we are in this together. We cannot hold hands but we can raise our hands in agreement and in solidarity as we worship from our beds and porches, on our knees in gardens, on the floor with our children, at our tables in conversation. Hallelujah! Amen.
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And now let the church say Amen!