In the scope of just one week I feel my job changed three times.
Just a week ago I was asking the question of our presbytery, “What is our responsibility in the face of the coronavirus?” Once the initial wave of decisions was made I immediately shifted to “What is the opportunity that the coronavirus pandemic presents?” My blog “COVID-19: This is our Moment” had just been published when I felt another shift. “What will be the human cost and what will be our response?” Grief and sadness suddenly crept into my heart and soul.
The last shift took me by surprise. After two years of trying create an atmosphere for change in our presbytery I almost welcomed the pandemic as a gift. “This is Our Moment!” I proclaimed. Almost simultaneously the reality behind this forced change suddenly hit me. This wasn’t just an opportunity to practice church in a different way. No, this is going to be a time of tremendous loss, grief, struggle, worry, illness and death.
- It suddenly hit me that grandchildren were going to lose grandparents.
- I suddenly realized that the minimum wage earner who lives paycheck to paycheck was now going to struggle to pay rent and buy basic supplies.
- Even more well-to-do folks were going to have to alter plans around retirement as the stock market has plunged.
- Children would both be proud and worried for their nurse and doctor parents who are significantly more at risk of contracting the virus.
- Churches that depended on monthly rental income to pay their bills would suddenly worry about making payroll.
- Small businesses would go out of business or employees laid off.
There will be real economic, emotional, and physical suffering.
I am not proud of the brief moments of looking at this whole pandemic almost clinically as I thought about how much it would disturb our ecclesiastical structure and provide new opportunities as the body of Christ. But I share my shifting because isn’t this what is happening? We are being changed and formed and reformed by this experience hour by hour and day by day. In the span of a short week I went from responsibility to opportunity to grief and sadness. I am not the same person I was even a week ago. And I believe we will not be the same church we were before this pandemic.
My message this morning is to simply trust this process of transformation. Don’t hold on too tightly to the past. Don’t force a future that isn’t yet ready to appear.
Just be present to what is front of you today.
Trust what you feel today.
Trust what you know today.
Be present to the people who need you today.
Believe me, tomorrow it will be different.
You will be different.
By Rev. Brian Heron, Presbyter for Vision and Mission, Presbytery of the Cascades
Brian, your previous post brought me hope and joy that the health crisis will transform us and our churches. I still believe that! This post reminds us the way to transformation is hard. Look what Christ went through to bring change, what his disciples went through. You saw in a glass darkly—no big. Now you (and I) see more clearly. May tomorrow bring us even more clarity and wisdom.
Same here. First inconvenience, then opportunity, more work, less work, apprehension and grief. Each day brings loss and the threat of loss… of connection, of productivity, of plans, of health. A pastor’s spouse in my area, Teresa, who is my age, took care of her grandchildren one day in February because the kids were sick and the parents needed to go to work. Now she is in a coma in the hospital, one of 17 COVID cases diagnosed in Marion County, and her husband is not allowed to be with her. Let us continue to pray, help where we can, and act prudently, being grateful for what we have and trusting God and each other for the future.