The Church (the people) respond
Here is the second of the theological reflections from Tim.
- What is your new normal? Is it truly new? And more importantly, does it move us to God’s norm?
- Rest. Let creativity flow into you from the Spirit. Trying to press into things all the time is a false premise.
- Do keep doing what we can in community. But perhaps look at the ‘traditional’ evangelism the other way round … preach the word through action, yes, but look also to when you can use words.
- Pretty much all we do in a “traditional” church service is based on words: read, hear, sing. We may benefit from thinking of others who do not have words (the Instagram generation) and who do not easily sit still and listen.
What has been the Church’s response to the pandemic?’ Has there been a holy version of Clap for the Carers on Thursday or even a united “we are here for you – come and see”?
We must acknowledge the difficulties for the Church: there has always been a wariness about social media. Written language is less communicative than spoken language which in turn is less than body language. Now, every day is like a Sunday – so ministers are busier than others. When we say “the Church should be there for them, for us” do we mean “the minister should be there for them, for us”? Ministers can only stretch so far.
As Lockdown continued, we withdrew into the comfort of dispensing advice from the Bible: “This too shall pass.” Some people have been moved to act: shopping for the vulnerable, holding online services etc. It has provided an opportunity to speak about God.
It’s OK to say the epidemic is saying something about our souls – but what is it saying? It seems to some that God has outsourced care for the body to medical science. But so far, medical science has not found the solution, merely forms of containment. It is OK to wait for medical science, but meantime, how do our spirits wait? Do we just sit blankly and listlessly? Is that how Jesus called us to wait until His return? Is this a test of our spiritual resilience?
The atheist who is offended that “God would allow this” is offended by their personal view of a god, not by an actual relationship with and knowledge of God and His ways.
Psychological advice is often reduced to the physical: do exercise, do not take too much alcohol and do get into a routine. The final truth, though, is what God is able to do for all of us. He can accompany us not just “in” but “through” time of anxiety, times of sickness and even death.
Seek and be met by God in this. “Be still and know that I am God.”
[from Timothy Pitt]