Posts Tagged With: Pandemic

The Church in a Pandemic

Here is a piece written by my wife Hetty reflecting on the church in our current time.

What happens when a church/ faith community/ group of believers, find themselves in the world of Covid 19?This is a question that I’ve been stewing on for 8 months. In March and April I kept my ears and eyes open for evidence that believers were mobilised to give assistance wherever the need was. I also wanted to see how churches were adapting their services to the challenges and opportunities of ‘online’.

At first I noticed the Sikh and Muslim communities making and delivering meals for tertiary students who had lost their income. I saw that churches were moving online but it was a poor attempt to replicate the service as close as possible, losing much of the sense of personal connection. Some church leaders tried bizarre stunts to continue certain practices.

Closer to home I heard of the work a group of Christians, which included my daughter, was doing to provide meals to the homeless and hungry. To change the sit-down meal they offered in the past with a takeaway one. Our local Christian school is using the produce from their horticulture unit to make meals and fresh food hampers for families who are having difficulty making ends meet.


Yesterday I stumbled across an article about the pandemics of the past. It explained the advancement of the early Christian church during and following the Antonine and the Cyprian plagues that occurred in the Roman Empire of A.D. 165 – 262. The combined pandemics’ mortality rate was anywhere from one-quarter to one-third of the empire’s population.


So what caused the baby Christian church to become a significant religion?Here’s a different way of asking this question: What was God doing in the hearts of the believers? How was He resourcing and equipping them?This is a quote from that article-
“Rodney Stark, in his seminal work “The Rise of Christianity,” argues that these two pandemics made Christianity a much more attractive belief system.While the disease was effectively incurable, rudimentary palliative care – the provision of food and water, for example – could spur recovery of those too weak to care for themselves. Motivated by Christian charity and an ethic of care for the sick – and enabled by the thick social and charitable networks around which the early church was organized – the empire’s Christian communities were willing and able to provide this sort of care.Pagan Romans, on the other hand, opted instead either to flee outbreaks of the plague or to self-isolate in the hope of being spared infection.”


Ah! There it is. Charity.


But where are the majority of today’s Christians to be found? Fleeing the outbreaks? Self-isolating? Pretending that nothing’s changed? Trying to get modern technology to ensure the congregation can continue to tithe? Demanding that the government leaders allow their churches to meet in person again?
Or living out the commandment of Jesus to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”(Luke 10:27)


I don’t want to search for this. I want it to be so, so patently obvious that a blind man couldn’t miss it. I want people to say “Christians? Yeah, there they are….. using their facilities to cook meals……..providing shelter………helping those struggling with anxiety………using their charitable networks to distribute aid.”
The twenty first century Christian has been equipped by God and He has given each of us a particular task that we must undertake where He has placed us.
Right now we find ourselves in a pandemic.

Categories: Christianity, Church, Hetty's Devotions | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

A Pandemic Rant

My wife told me to write the following to get it out of my system.

 

I have become increasingly perturbed by the “sooking”, all the complaining and whinging coming out of society since the lock downs that been imposed. “Why can’t we do this now.(Clubbing, shopping, visiting)”  “I am depressed because I’ve got my kids at home.” I can’t do this and that and the list of complaints goes on  …

I am not denying that the coronavirus is a huge upheaval and people have lost their jobs, and life has been hugely disrupted – and people are dying. It is huge and it going to continue being an issue for quite some time. However, in the whole sweep of history it is not the Black Death with a third of the population wiped out, it is not a reign of terror by invading hoards, it is not the nightly fear of bombs dropping on our heads and living in the Underground every evening, it is not a nuclear holocaust. It is a pandemic, the likes of which we haven’t seen in many generations. Yet in most western countries, with a few stark exceptions, and certainly in Australia the impacts have been managed.

The virus has, however, revealed a deep lack of individual and community resilience. I believe we need to place ourselves in the context of history rather than in our self-centred C21st  bubble. My father was born at the end of WW1. The Spanish flu was running riot. When he was 10 the Great Depression started and by the time he was 20 he was picked up by invading Germans and forced to work near Berlin through the best part of his early 20s. At thirty-three he picked up his young family and migrated to Australia, worked hard, never made much money but also never complained. The thing is, he wasn’t unique. It was a characteristic of his generation. There was a resilience and tenacity. When I complained about the jobs I was supposed to do as a young boy there was, understandably, very little sympathy. He didn’t know the phrase “suck it up” but that was the intent.

The question I want to pose is, why do so many today, young and old, show a lack of resilience? With all the comforts, technology and government safety nets of our society, where is the sense of fortitude, courage and desire to overcome?

Is it that in the last few generations we have protected ourselves and children from tough choices, hard decisions and even the more mundane daily tasks that simply mean putting aside our discomfort and stepping up? If our children are told to hang the washing, weed the garden, clean the bathroom or wash the car is the expectation that they do it whether they like it or not. “Suck it up.”

What have we learned about ourselves over the past months? Are there attitudes we need to change? Are there areas of our life where we need to grow a backbone? This pandemic will be wasted if is all about returning to life as normal because it may just be that “normal” was not such a healthy state after all, for us, our families and society.

And finally, it is not simply about finding the “positives”. For many, particularly those who have lost loved ones, jobs and security, the message of “finding the positives” can be quite despairing because there aren’t any. The message, in fact, is far simpler. Life throws up many tough challenges and we need to have the courage to struggle against them whether they are individual, family or communal. It is a trait that should be learned from childhood. It is a resilience that enables communities to fight wars against evil oppressors, individuals to persevere over personal struggles and societies to fight pandemics. Is it that lesson we are all being reminded of? Looking around and observing social behavior I find the answer to that question quite disheartening.

Categories: community, Family, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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