Because of the pandemic of the coronavirus, almost all churches ended services or Masses with a congregation present around March 18. Ministers of all denominations longed to be with their people, as their people longed to be with their minister.
Even though most churches now are having some services with a congregation present, it is not the same.
Yet we have a God who is faithful to us in all times. If we trust in God, then we have nothing to fear. God can and will help us through these unprecedented times.
For those of you who are Christian, we look to Christ as our lead. He lived our life, died our death, and rose again. That is the promise of the paschal mystery: after the suffering and death, resurrection is promised to those who have given their life to Jesus.
The following are observations or learnings that I have experienced or witnessed during these times.
- Churches of all denominations looked for creative ways to support their people. If we already were using social media, we began earnestly to learn how to use it better. I discovered that many people happily engaged in this outreach.
- Because of the virus, there was a hunger for the word of God, how to read it, and how to pray it. Families appreciated the creative ways churches guided them to celebrate Holy Week and Easter. Many had their own prayer services in their homes using guidance from their churches.
- Zoom, Google Meet, FaceTime, etc. are now more a part of our vocabulary. I heard stories of people setting up times when families could get together from across the states, if not across the globe, to visit and even play games. This time when sickness, death and darkness descended on the world was the catalyst that caused many people to reflect on what was really important. I have heard stories of parents and adult children reconciling with each other, many times forgetting why they were not communicating in the first place. Grandparents longed to be with their grandchildren and vice versa. I heard stories of grandparents creating games via Zoom to have fun times with their grandchildren. We have had some good come from this new way of living.
Nevertheless, some people still are isolated, and the nutrition needs of others are not being met. This too has been an impetus to practice Christian charity. Many people sought ways of reaching out to others. Prince of Peace church, and I imagine many others, formed a calling committee to reach out to members who most likely could not go out.
So many people in our community worked with local charities to help make sure that families were able to get some of their nutrition needs met.
Our world is struggling to adapt to this new “normal.” It is inconvenient and difficult. It will require every ounce of effort we can muster and still may not be enough. Many of us who are churchgoers have found the strength to continue and do more than we could imagine by turning to our Lord.
As it says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
Paul Colling is pastor of Prince of Peace Church in Kearney.
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