Finding grace in a pandemic
By Doug Hon 02/09/2020
In, The Acts of the Apostles, we read of a great persecution that broke out against the church after they had initially enjoyed the favor of the community. This was a fierce struggle. Leaders were being arrested and Stephen was brutally stoned. And yet, while the violence was meant to harm the church, it actually put the church on mission. Because of the pressure in Jerusalem, evangelists like Philip began to move from there to Judea and then to Samaria just as the Sprit had mandated. In a great irony, an irony that God performs over and over, from tragedy comes victory, from death comes life.
While this world-wide pandemic has caused enormous pain and suffering, there has also been unexpected outbreaks of grace. In the Lifelink churches in America we have found this to be true. While none of our churches are gathering for meetings we are finding ways to love one another and offer generous hope to our communities.
The church where I serve as a pastor, Main Street Church, has been involved in providing meals for hospital workers as well as gathering funds for our friends' hard hit in India, Peru and Africa. So too have the other Lifeline churches in Michigan, Chicago, Minneapolis and Memphis been finding ways to share the good news. I even spent a half-day rescuing a cat whose owner has the cover -19 virus and is in critical condition. This pandemic yields unexpected opportunities for love to be shared.
In the US churches we have only had a small amount of people contract the virus, but it has been serious for those who have. The outbreaks in the US are nation-wide but very regional in intensity. This makes for a patchwork of strategies that are needed in varying communities.
The Lifelink USA churches have been sharing our situations with each other through weekly Zoom calls that the lead pastor of each church participates in on a weekly basis. This has been a huge source of unity and burden sharing. Just a week ago, we had not only the USA pastors on our zoom call but also related church leaders from India, Africa, and Argentina. The UK was well represented since two of our pastors are British! We gave reports, shared needs and prayed for each other. the digital meeting was inspiring. The world is one parish in these times.
Staying flexible and watchful is a key concern for us. We know that even when we begin to regather the process will require wisdom and grace. We have also seen a tremendous amount of refreshing generosity being poured out in the churches. Needs are being met whether they are financial or physical. Again, just as in Acts, generosity and grace are linked.
None of us really know what impact this will have long term but we do sense it will change things. I believe that for a people willing to privately take refuge in the Lord almighty, and publicly display his love, this will be a time when grace will breakout in an unexpected way.