Frozen in place
March 18, 2020
Frozen in place Frozen in place is one apt metaphor for where many of the world’s countries find themselves as the COVID-19 virus continues its journey through the human race. In disappointing, though not unexpected fashion, a few entrepreneurs have seized the opportunity to make money by leveraging fear of the unknown. Fortunately, they are the exception and not the norm. In contrast, heroic efforts are playing out on a daily basis as neighbors and communities discover there is strength in both numbers and association. It is a reminder of how dependent we are on each other, and that rising above our own selfish vanities is key to bettering the welfare of all.
The virus has unmasked us, laid us bare to consider our role(s) as neighbors and friends and kinfolk facing our own vulnerabilities and mortality. We’ve always had second chances in the past it would seem, but we now face something new and different, an uninformed future where we are asked to make our way with clear intent -- not an easy task in the best of moments. It is a time of uncertainty and second-guessing hampered by occasional though understandable human propensity to close our eyes to what is before us.
My particular congregation took what at first felt like a premature step, closing the church building to face-to-face meetings until further notice, and to re-evaluate in three weeks so that we might gauge where we will then fit into the COVID-19 response. A friend recently observed that church people tend to be loyal to a fault, believing that it is their duty to continue to gather, even when informed otherwise. Are we able to express that same sense of loyalty by not gathering, by putting on hold our corporate activities for the safety and welfare of others? It seems a small penalty to pay for the benefit of community.
One recently expressed fear is that a spike of viral cases in a short period of time might overwhelm medical resources. If those cases can be extended over time, and at moderately lower infection rates at any one time, then even minimal efforts at social distancing might be welcomed.
For churches whose ecclesiology is deeply engrained, this can pose a particularly challenging assignment. Who are we when we cannot meet as we always meet, or worship or sing together? In this challenge, we will discover new avenues to take to arrive at the same space we previously hoped for. Are we prepared to see something new and fresh and challenging in our faith? COVID-19 might unwittingly set the stage for a renaissance of thought regarding tradition, including treasured ordinances and rites.
How shall we, as psalmists of a new age, respond to the uncertainties and issues of our days? Perhaps, with the calm and conviction of William Wordsworth who penned, “Trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home: Heaven lies about us in our infancy!” We no longer remain frozen in place, but are now eager to get on with the work to which we are called.
“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us…[and] establish the work of our hands.” (Ps 90:17, NIV)