Thursday, March 19, 2020
What we will NOT do. . .
There will be times in which we will be forced to adapt (I prefer adding service times to accommodate the people of God within parameters that keep them safe rather than cancelling them entirely or relying on video --virtual congregations) but we must keep our heads.
We must also consider what we are doing in this urgency and how it may impact the future of what we do normally. If we give into the fear and abandon the chalice entirely, how will we restore it when we have encouraged people not to have confidence in the cup? If we teach our people that the Church can function all well and good within a digital framework, without face to face gatherings around the Word and Table of the Lord, how will break the new habit after 3 or 6 or 10 weeks and suddenly take away these screen versions of the Divine Service? If over time our people become satisfied with the minimal direct participation in favor of the virtual church services through media, how will we rekindle the hunger within them for what God intended?
We have learned to our shame that exceptions quickly become norms and these norms become the routines against which the old normal must be argued. This may seem like a trivial concern in a world hyped with threat, fear, and panic but we have already seen how quickly new ideas become the present routines. The face pace of technological change means that our normal is constantly changing and adapting. We may not like it but that is how things work today.
For the sake of the people and not for the sake of the Church and her institutional structures, we must do everything we can as shepherds of the flock to adapt and maintain the ordinary of people gathered around the Word and Table of the Lord -- even during times of test, trial, and trouble. It is for the sake of those within our care that we as pastors and priests will be called upon to work harder and be even more faithful as this unfolds. For the warning bells of those who try to look into the future suggest that this will not be a short term problem but might well extend through the next several months. We have children to baptize, the faith to teach, the dead to bury, the sick to comfort, and the people of God to nourish with the Word of the Lord and Christ's body and blood. All of these must continue to go forward even though we will have to work very hard to accomplish the pastoral task amid the uncertainties of the unknown future and the ever changing rules from government and medical authority.