I don’t know who had a once in a century pandemic on their 2020 vision board but I didn’t. I didn’t see this coming or imagine that the world would change because of it. Socially distant, at least six feet apart, the pandemic has changed the way “we live, move and have our being” (Acts 17.28). It has changed what we believe about ourselves and what we are able to do.
It has changed our understanding of the Church and our identity as the Body of Christ. Building or body, are Christ’s believers his hands and feet or brick and mortar? Stuck. Are we still believers if we cannot gather physically? Is the virtual connection enough? Does it count as attending and belonging to a church if we meet online? Am I still a person of faith if I cannot go to church?
Questions swirl for many of us who claim to have all the answers. Yes, Jesus is the way but we are not going anywhere anytime soon. No vaccine, we are all homebound, all shut in for the unforeseeable future. Churches that stood by their traditions and would vote a pastor out before they changed their ways were forced to change or close their doors permanently. No argument with Death here. This was a life or death decision. Change or die financially and quite literally.
But the pandemic has also changed the way we lead. Less personality- driven and more prophetic, the times call for voices that will not fail and that do not fear the repercussions of truth- telling. My grandmother would say, “Tell the truth and shame the devil!” It is always time to come clean and confess that we, as believers, have not done our best in a world that feeds on communities starved of resources, that tramples underfoot those marginalized by capitalism and that kneels on the necks and shoots in the back those racialized and reduced to the social coloring of their skin.
And we cannot stutter. Police brutality, the abuse, unlawful arrest and shooting of unarmed African Americans is wrong. There is no getting away from this as our days run together and protests continue in America’s streets. There cannot be a glitch or a hiccup in our declarations of truth, justice, equality and unconditional love for all of God’s children. Because if you cannot say that African American lives matter, which is the bare minimum then this is not a technical difficulty but a theological one.