What a time we’re living in. How quickly things are changing, almost from hour to hour. As I live through these days, and as I try to find ways to adjust to this new reality, I find myself with a heart that is both broken and blessed.
My heart is broken for a number of different reasons. We’ve had to cancel worship services at Christ Church Anglican, which as you might imagine is a huge deal. Worship is one of our primary ministries. It’s an opportunity to gather as a community of faith to worship God, and to provide encouragement and support to one another.
We’ve also cancelled the Good Friday CrossWalk. For the last 14 years, Christians from different churches have gathered to walk and pray together through the downtown core. It has been a meaningful part of the devotion for many of us, and we will sorely miss it.
We’re not sure about when we’ll be able to gather together again … but I’m certain that will be a joyful day for us all.
My heart is broken as well because we need to self–isolate and to keep social distance. It wasn’t until we were deprived of such things as a simple handshake or a hug in greeting that I realized how much I missed it. I’m a hugger and I miss the contact.
My heart is broken even more by those religious leaders who are saying that this pandemic is God’s will. Honestly I’m not surprised; it has happened too often that they claim to know God’s heart, and they arrogantly condemn anyone who disagrees with them. An influential rabbi in Israel made the news this week for saying homosexuality and gay pride parades are the reason behind the spread of the deadly virus around the world. Another blogger wrote, “Sorry to break up the big panic, but the coronavirus will not take anyone outta this world unless that’s the good Lord’s plan. And you’re not gonna change that no matter what you do or what you buy.”
Seriously? If that’s true, then we don’t need to do anything, because anything we do will be ineffectual at best. No need to worry, folks; no need to prepare, defend, protect, sacrifice, or act. It’s all in “the good Lord’s plan.”
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On a humorous side note … Kenneth Copeland, a noted televangelist, told viewers that if they put their hands up against the tv screen, he would pray the virus away. My suggestion is that they clean their screens thoroughly now.
On the other side, my heart is broken by religious leaders like Roman Catholic Archbishop Andrzej Dziega of Poland who encouraged his people to keep going to church and to keep taking communion despite the dangers. He contradicts all medical and scientific advice by saying, “Do not be afraid of the Church, for Christ does not spread disease.”
Beyond religion, my heart is broken by people who are acting out of fear. They are panicking, and in their panic, they hoard and become more selfish. We forget that we share this planet, this country, this city, this neighbourhood with other people. Do you really need eight packages of toilet paper for a couple? Do you really need to buy out an entire meat department? Do you really need to engage in fist fights with other shoppers over dwindling supplies?
My heart is broken.
On the other hand, my heart has been deeply blessed. Even though some are hoarding, others are more than willing to share. People are learning once more to care about and care for their neighbours. We are learning to notice the more vulnerable among our neighbours, and we are offering to serve those who can’t help themselves.
Alongside the selfishness, we are seeing magnificent compassion. Alongside the fear, we are seeing people develop a trusting resourcefulness. Alongside the idiocy of people claiming to be able to heal this virus through the tv screen, there are moments of sheer blessing as people reach out in love and grace and compassion.
I have been heartened and my heart has been blessed as well by some of the positive stuff on facebook. In particular, this piece by Laura Kelly Fanucci spoke to me:
When this is over,
may we never again
take for granted
a handshake with a stranger
full shelves of the store
conversations with neighbours
a crowded theatre
Friday night out
the taste of communion
a routine checkup
the school rush each morning
coffee with a friend
the stadium roaring
each deep breath
a boring Tuesday
When this ends,
may we find
that we have become
more like the people
we wanted to be
we were called to be
we hoped to be
and may we stay
for each other
because of the worst.
Yme Woensdregt is Pastor at Christ Church Anglican in Cranbrook