I’ve never forgotten the advice of the instructor on my first day of flying training at the Air Force Academy. “What’s the first thing you do in an aircraft emergency?” he asked.
“Wind your watch.”
In other words, “Take stock of the situation. Don’t panic.”
(Yes, those were the days when watches were powered by springs which required winding.)
And the second thing?
“Fly the aircraft.”
Don’t get so distracted trying to fix what’s wrong that you forget the basics.
Today we’re in the early stages of a global health crisis brought on by COVID-19. As Americans, we expect to be safe and comfortable. We expect to overcome problems and move on. This crisis may be very different.
What does it mean to be a faithful church in a time like this? Some thoughts:
Ours is an incarnational faith. God came to earth as a human being, subject to all the hazards of the first century world, like famine, wars, and disease. He hung out with the sick, the possessed, and people who wanted to kill him. Jesus knows what we’re going through.
Jesus commanded us not to worry, five times in the Sermon on the Mount alone. Dutch writer Corrie ten Boom said, “Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.”
We must care for the hurting. Jesus said it over and over in Matthew 25; we’ll be judged on whether we cared for those who were hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and more. Jesus doesn’t let us off the hook when caring is hard. One of the reasons the early church grew was its willingness to care for the sick, including non-believers, regardless of the danger.
Going where God leads takes courage. Read 1 Corinthians 11:23 and the verses that follow. The Apostle Paul said that he was “exposed to death again and again.” Paul was shipwrecked and beaten, hungry, naked, and sleep deprived. For much of church history, and in many places today, being a Christian was not “safe.”
It’s wise to be careful. Proverbs 22:3 says, “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” (NLT). We need to see science and medicine as the gifts they are, and we need to find and act on the best possible information. I recommend this podcast with Dr Michael Osterholm, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3URhJx0NSw. You can also Google “Michael Osterholm.”
Remember our hope. On Ash Wednesday we were reminded of our mortality. But we should also remember that when Mary Magdalene met the Risen Jesus on the first Easter morning, she mistook him for the gardener. It was the right mistake to make. Jesus was sowing seeds where there had been only death. We have no idea when the end will come for us, but when we believe, we can know without any doubt that God’s got us, and we belong to him forever.
Pray! Pray for those with the illness, health care workers, leaders, and anyone impacted by this disease and its effects. Pray for the church as we seek to be faithful in this challenging time.
Note: We will continue to evaluate the situation and respond as needed. We will make changes to the way we conduct worship to limit potential exposure. We are continuing to clean surfaces throughout the church. We’re also evaluating the way Tuesday night meals are served. Please check the church email or call the church if you have questions. Of course, if you are experiencing symptoms, please seek medical help, avoid contact with others, and let us know so we can care for you.