May 18, 2020by Reverend Dan on May 18, 2020
“See, I am doing a new thing! Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
“Open your eyes. I’m doing something new! Don’t you get it? Can’t you see?” is how one translation of the scripture reads.
Back in the 16th century the church went through a “reformation”. I wonder if that’s not happening again. The last time a man named Martin Luther started it all when he questioned a few (well, 95) things he saw the church could improve on. This time, the Coronavirus is making us look at how we’ve been “doing” church and making us focus more on “being” the church.
I’m not saying God is behind this (“this” being the virus). But I am saying we’d better be ready get out in front of the changes because He’s obviously working through it. We’d better open our eyes because new things are happening around us and we will miss them if we don’t perceive what is going on. I looked it up and “perceive” means “to grasp” something, to understand it. I’m not sure we perceive what is happening in and to the church because God is definitely making a way in the wilderness of the pandemic.
What is happening in the world now is going to change everything for a long time, maybe forever. Business models are being altered – some companies have already told employees they can work from home forever. The same is happening with education. Some businesses are finding it hard to adapt and simply surviving has become the goal. The way we relax - sports, dining out, concerts, shopping – they’ve all changed and will remain changed in some ways. I’ve even heard Golden Corral is reopening, but without the buffet. (Armageddon must be close!) The church has changed as well. The one-dimensional view that says only Sundays in the sanctuary matter to God is gone. We are having to rethink and redefine who and what we are as a church.
We are so focused on getting “back to normal”. Could it be that God is moving us to a new place, and doesn’t want us to look back at the old place and habits we had gotten in to? (Sodom and Gomorrah come to mind.) Personally, I hope so. I don’t want to go back to “normal”. Normal church had become rote and repetitive and staid. Worship didn’t look that different than it did sixty years ago when I was born. On good days worship was average and at worst, when the focus was taken off God and put on other things, it was unbiblical. I believe the best days for the church lie ahead of us – if we “perceive” and react to what is happening during this time.
This pandemic has shown us that we need to change our default. Gathering one day a week in a self-built shrine that spends more money annually for upkeep than it does for missions isn’t what Christ had in mind. Making the world outside those walls part of the church is what this pandemic has reignited, and it’s beautiful to watch. Food pantries from churches are feeding over 1,000,000 per day and that’s just one example.
It’s time to stop seeing church as a Sunday morning performance for the paying members (while trying to get new patrons to join) and start seeing it as a worldwide service organization that exists to serve. “The way we’ve always done it” doesn’t work during this pandemic, and it never may again. And maybe that’s not a bad thing.
“Father, Give us the courage, foresight and wisdom to follow You through this wilderness into a new day for Your church. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.”