Now, here’s a thing. I’ve been thinking about my series on disasters and how we should react to them. My main thought is that next week we can get back to less serious and important topics and all have a bit of a rest! But, I did say I would conclude with how we as a Church should respond to the ongoing pandemic and how we can recover when it is finally over. When I have sat down to do so, I arrived at a surprising (to me at least) conclusion.
To start, it worth. thinking through just what impact the pandemic has had on us as a Church.
- It has made some people in the Church and close to it very ill Also, whilst no-one from within our fellowship has died almost all of us will have known someone who has died from it.
- It has prevented us from meeting together for praise, worship, teaching, prayer and fellowship, Most of us have felt this grievously, especially with regard to the worship and fellowship (The teaching and prayer gaps have been more effectively covered by our on-line and recorded ministries.) There is a real danger that we have all been provided with a new Sunday ‘comfort zone’ where we all feel more at home, ‘at home’.
- It has restricted our outreach through activities such as the Fellowship Group, Mums and Toddlers, Thursday Zone and the Carol Service and the exhibition.
- It has limited our contact with other people and our opportunities to witness.
- It has reduced our income.
I am going to suggest that whilst the pandemic has been a disaster for some people, who have died or lost loved ones and that it has been massively disruption in areas such as the economy, public services and education (All of which affect the lives of people), for us as a church it has a been a hardship to be borne, not a disaster to be recovered from.
Either way, disaster or hardship, I suggest we look at what the Apostle Paul has to say in 2 Cor. 11.
‘I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea’
Paul goes on in this vein for some time. Now we know that these sufferings came specifically from Paul’s determination to speak about the Lord Jesus Christ – not from the grind of everyday life or from r circumstance (like, say, a pandemic). But the truth is wherever our sufferings come we are called to respond to them, as individuals and as a church in the same way – as Paul says in Romans 5.3:
‘Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.’
Let’s give the last word to James:
‘Count it all joy, my brethren, when you fall into various tribulations.’