As we practice social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, we are faced with new challenges. One of them is the mandate for churches to not gather and meet in hopes to flatten the curve.
But one thing that all of this is doing is reminding us is that the church is not a building. We are the church. You are the church. (Sound familiar?)
In the midst of this “new normal,” here are four ideas for being missional right now.
“How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.” (1 Thessalonians 3:9-10, NRSV)
The Thessalonian Christians stuck out like a sore thumb.
They were not like anybody! In their world religion, business, and social position were all interconnected. Because they worshiped Jesus Christ, and not other gods, they were not considered a part of the “in” group. They were no longer accepted in society and were considered outcasts. They were rejected by most of society.
“And the Lord God commanded the [human], ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” (Genesis 2:16-17, NRSV)
Have you ever been told what NOT to do?
As a parent, I feel like I spend a ton of time telling my daughters not to do something. “Don’t throw your food on the floor.” “Don’t hit your sister.” “Don’t talk to people like that.” “Don’t run into the ocean.”
“When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:16)
The rains came. The waters rose. The ark floated. The sun appeared. The dove flew. The ark landed. Noah worshiped.
The rainbow appeared.
The story of Noah’s Ark is well known and familiar to us. I imagine the flood as a massive time-out for humanity. God the Parent had had enough. As an educator, whenever time-out is used, the general rule of thumb has always been one minute for each year of life. So a three-year-old, for example, would sit in time-out for three minutes.
“You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” (James 1:19-20, NRSV)
In a 2007 episode of the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Miranda Bailey, the African-American chief of surgery, is faced with a challenging case. Not because the surgical needs of the patient are a medical mystery. But because the patient is a Neo-Nazi, and does not want any African-American person touching him.
TV medical dramas being what they are, the patient’s condition becomes so dire, that Dr. Bailey is the only surgeon who can do the most good. She easily could employ the same anger the patient showed her. Instead, realizes that if she responds out of anger, she will be no better than her patient. Dr. Bailey tells the medical staff, “We will rise above.”