Never Waste A Good Crisis
Where do we go from here? I’ve thought about that the last couple of days as I’m anticipating the full reopening of our church. As that day approaches, I wonder what is going to be the same, and what is going to be different? Not just me but each of you, how have we changed during this time of isolation? For some things aren’t all that different, but for many much has changed.
Older parents have been sequestered to their homes by their adult children. Some have not ventured beyond the yard for more than a month. Children have not been to school, have not been to youth group, or Sunday School. Young adults have carried on working from home, or are at least attempting to between trying to get the kids to do their school work or toddlers constantly wanting/needing attention. Kids screaming, tv’s blasting, dogs
barking! Let me get back to the quiet sanctuary of the workplace.
We’ve become used to avoiding people. We know how to keep our distance. How’s that going to affect those who warmly want to welcome everyone after such a long absence? As you approach people are they going to back away from you? How will you react? How will you feel? What about people as they approach you? Will you step away? How’s it going to affect us as we gather in a room together again hearing one another sing and pray? Emotions will likely run high. Self-containment will be that much more difficult. And yet we know it has to be.
Will some chose not to return. They’ve perhaps decided that on-line church is pretty good. I can catch it live and at my own convenience, but the important thing is that I watch it sometime. I no longer need to get up on Sunday morning and get cleaned up and dressed up. I don’t really like to sing in front of everyone so this on-line stuff is pretty good. I suspect some will never return, I hope I’m wrong, I think I might have been once, but I’m afraid some are gone forever.
Others, I believe, are going to thrive because they understand that something has been missing. Maybe they know what it is, maybe not, but something vital in their lives has been absent these past weeks. They’re going to walk through the sanctuary doors and their hearts will be overwhelmed. And understand, it will be a mixture of joy, fear, and anxiety that hit them like a mighty rushing wind blowing them over and not knowing what is the proper way to respond. Some will shout, cry, shiver with cold chills and others perhaps will need to turn around and return home for fear of not knowing how to handle the onslaught of emotions. But we’re going to have them. As a pastor, the first time I look out and see actual people in the pews, I hope I can contain myself.
I also hope that we can realize that things are different and because of that we need to continue to think ahead. We need to not slip completely into how things were. It’s not that things were bad necessarily, but that we have changed. We’ve evolved somewhat maybe adapted is a better word, but with that, we need to continue to look forward. We made the necessary adjustments in order to try and reach out; in some areas, I think we succeeded -- in others I think we could have done better. But the point is we tried. As we move forward, and that’s the direction we want to go. I realize that we need to continue to look for ways in which we can reach out beyond these brick and mortar walls.
Because, if we've learned nothing else this past month, we've learned that the building is not the church. We are the church! And we’ve continued to be the church even in unprecedented times. But also, if we’re going to continue to be relevant in the coming age we must continually think and try, sometimes successfully sometimes not, ways to be relevant to those we’ve been commissioned to reach.
So, where do we go from here? We go forward! We go beyond the walls. Will things ever be the same? In some ways, I hope not. If we’ve learned nothing during this time then truly a good crisis has been wasted.