The crazy thing about pandemics is that a virus doesn’t have a political agenda. It infects left wing nut cases with the same force as it does for alt-right wing loonies. It cares not about religious affiliation or lack thereof. One’s sexual identity or views on abortion mean nothing to the coronavirus. Maybe if Covid-19 were around in Jesus day, He would have said, “Coronavirus is spread on the just and the unjust alike.” (see Matthew 5:45).
No one knows how long this infectious time will last, and no one knows if it’s going to come knocking on our doors again. I’ve got peeps on both sides of the great political chicken wire, you probably do too. Your social media time line probably looks like mine. It’s filled with Covid-19 opinions and arguments from all directions including (but not limited to): the spread of the virus; measures to contain the spread; the origination and the various conspiracy theories and rumors concerning the virus; declarations of God’s involvement, indifference or pandemic judgement upon the world; and how our government officials have responded or not responded to Covid-19.
Who knew that a virus could divide our world even more than it was already divided? Don’t provide any more fuel for this virtual barnyard brawl, instead give them fruit. Not just any fruit, the fruit of the Spirit. Let them see in us:
Love (The great theologian Dionne Warwick said it best, “what the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there is just too little of.” Better yet, Jesus said, “Love one another” and “Love your enemies.” Let love be our first response).
Joy (Offer the exuberant hope that God will brighten our future)
Peace (In the midst of chaos, let’s bear the unmistakable presence of Jesus).
Patience (Let’s listen before we speak).
Kindness (Bearing truth and grace, need not be unkind. Compassion and mercy matters).
Goodness (Offer a helping hand even if we don’t agree with the ideas, lives, or even the manner in which our gift is received).
Faithfulness (Let our message never change. We love God with everything we’ve got, and likewise we love our neighbors).
Gentleness (When this whole mess is over and whatever new normal comes to pass, be humble and refuse to point fingers, cast blame or offer anyone an “I told you so”).
Self-Control (It’s hard not to say, “I told you so,” when I told you so. Don’t give into the temptation to join in the arguments or divisive rhetoric on-line or in person; instead be eager to have God’s grace ooze from every word typed and phrase uttered).
When Covid-19 craziness meets the fruit of the Spirit, a bit of sanity and a whole lot of holiness prevails.
The words “Opening Day” fills this Detroit Tiger fan with joy and hope as a new baseball season dawns. Did you see the Tigers play last year? Trust me, the feeling doesn’t last long. “Opening Day” also brings joy to my friends who love to go into the woods, see one of God’s impressive creatures, a monster buck white tail deer, and shoot him dead.
An “Opening Song or Opening Act” brings excitement for the concert or theatre goers. The show is finally starting.
A “Grand Opening” brings joy too. I’ve prayed at the Grand Opening of a Chick-fil-a (My magnificent prayer didn’t give me free sandwiches for a year. Rats). I’ve also prayed for a Grand Opening of a Lowe’s home improvement store (It closed about a year ago. I’m not sure what that says about my magnificent praying skills but I digress).
A “Soft Opening” refers to the quiet thrill of starting a business to make sure all the kinks have been worked out before the grand opening. One of my favorite lines in the movie Ocean’s Thirteen is when the character Saul Bloom doesn’t quite understand what a “soft opening” is. He says, “When they opened The Flamingo, one day it was closed, the next it was open. End of story. I know. I was there.”
But the word, I’m waiting for is Re-Opening. When will businesses re-open? What is the right time to re-open? What will happen if we re-open too soon? And on this pastor’s mind: When will the church re-open?
We all know what is meant by the question: When can we gather and sing God’s praises with a crowd of like-minded friends? When will we have some semblance to the church life we had pre-pandemic? No one wants that more than me!
But maybe, just maybe, we don’t need to pray for a re-opening of the church as much as we need to pray that our Heavenly Father might re-open our eyes to the needs around us. Re-open our Bibles and seek God’s truth. Re-open our hearts to compassion. Re-open our minds and imagine how God might lead us through this pandemic. Re-open our checkbooks (do people still use checkbooks?) and be generous in funding the mission of God. Re-open our commitment to the church’s main task: Making Christ-like disciples in the nations.
We all want to re-open the church, but first let’s re-open our lives for the Master’s use.