The Isolation of the Church

So, we have entered a period of shaking, one of perhaps many to come. Where what is normal is suspended, and our lives appear to be upended. Where fear leads to panic, and we find ourselves in uncharted territory.

It is not the possibility of death that leaves me fearful. But rather how we as a Church respond to the shaking that has been prophesied (and for the most part, roundly ignored) for many years. How are we doing? Are we fully clothed, sober, alert and ready for the times? Or we are we rudely awakened, panicked, throwing on clothes and rushing about trying to catch up? In which kingdom do we find ourselves, and in what or whom, is our trust?

Suddenly these don’t seem like idle concerns anymore.

I’ve read the church leaders responses to the pandemic, and while much in there is laudable – there often seems to be something, or someone, missing.

I completely understand the need to do everything possible for those who are physically vulnerable and the people who are treating them. The Church has a duty to care and to be responsible. And the call to us as a nation to a day of prayer may well prove to be a kairos moment.

But at the same time it seems as if we as a church have been too ready to accept the implicit judgment of the secular authorities – that we are not essential, that in times of emergency we can simply stand aside. This is the first ever closure of public worship! And, in listening to what is said, it can start to sound a bit like physical safety and security are the real things, and the coming together of the ekklesia to partake in communion with Christ, an optional extra.

Don’t misunderstand me – I am cognisant of and generally supportive towards the decisions that are being taken. But I can’t shake the feeling that we have surrendered something so precious without much of a second thought. As if Health and Safety comes before Salvation.

I do realise that these are really hard calls to make! The leaders having to make them have my sympathy.

But – in the times we are living – what about life?! Where were we in the deepest and darkest pandemics of our times? The orgy of pornography? The death of marriage? The murder of millions of innocents? What have we said in these times of such evil and barbaric destruction???! A few voices perhaps – muted and mostly ignored. We have already entered the gates of hell, and the Church turned over in our sleep and hit the snooze button again.

So now we have another wake-up call – a mercy judgment. Our lives have been changed, almost overnight. And perhaps the enforced dispersal into our local communities give us, as the Church, the opportunity to shine, to be that light set on a lampstand. Now is the time for the ‘ordinary’ believer to be salt and light, and to be a blessing in a world unhinged by anxiety and fear. To meet the challenge, and to overcome.

He is still Sovereign, and in the midst of judgment is entwined mercy. May we gather those threads and be the light of that mercy in the coming times.

Jesus is the Hope of the World, and Who we carry is more precious than anything else could ever possibly be. Live a life in the coming days in light of that truth!

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