During this COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the best and the worst of people from all over the world. And in the United States, the president acknowledged that the governors of each state will decide how and when their state will come off their lockdown.
Unfortunately, we have seen some states take it upon themselves to make careless decisions not based on science but from constituents. Within some states, pastors have gone against common sense logic and held church services for multitudes of people. This type of behavior only increasing the likelihood of more people getting infected by COVID-19. This Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday and these pastors are not shepherding their flocks like Jesus would but instead they are acting like the Pharisees. I have seen on the news how some pastors ignore the stay at home orders and call their parishioners to come to church so that there will be hundreds in attendance. They say that the state will not violate their God-given or constitutional right to practice their religion.
John 10: 11-12 says, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them”. The pastors/shepherds of the church are supposed to lay down their life for the sheep and what some pastors are doing is acting like hired hands because not only do they see the wolf coming but they are staying there distracting the sheep so that the beast devours them all.
The above-listed scenario has been used by only a small handful of churches while the majority of the rest are complying with the lockdown requests and helping others as best as they can. We must think of the crisis as a long-term problem because it is not like flipping a switch and everything goes back to normal. For some places, this working from remote locations will be the new normal and other businesses will be restored slowly but surely.
When something painful or unexpected happens, it is easy to get overwhelmed, you can see how it affects people and the stock market. But Philippians 4:6 says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” this will bring peace to your heart and soul. Despite the challenges that Holy Cross has faced in the last 133 years you must realize the church remains and everyone plays a vital role now more than ever.
Human beings are inherently creative and we use our creativity to dream, to imagine, to plan, to problem solve. When we trust the infinite possibilities that exist in the creative process, we can break through our self-imposed boundaries and limitations.
- The clergy must communicate with parishioners. Check-in calls to parishioners, emails inviting people to keep in touch with each other, and social media posts can build a sense of community despite widespread physical separation and accompany people through a troubled time.
- Transparency in operations, including finances, so that people feel encouraged to offer financial support now or in the future when they are able.
- Sharing responsibility between laypeople and clergy, thereby taking full advantage of the expertise and creativity people have as the church maneuvers through uncertain times.
New technologies make communication much easier today: for example, I created a new church website which features many things unlike the old website and is very informational. The website includes the feature, contact, and services that explain the thing we offer such as Ladies aid society, Seniors, Adult and volunteer, and a photo gallery.
Online streaming is in the process of being developed but in the meantime, we have a list of audio recorded sermons for the past two months that parishioners or anyone can listen to by entering the church website. There is also an informational blog section that includes information deemed important to the website community.
We have been fortunate enough to take bold steps in the virtual form and reach out to people online seeking a church to worship in. Here at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, we are a Christ-centered, bible-based church that teaches the word of God in its truth and purity and administers the Sacraments according to the mandates of Christ Jesus.
Shortly, we hope to create an online ministry platform that will include bible study, prayer services, and more just to name a few to reach people seeking to learn about and become part of God's family.
I pray that God blessing all of you who are going through a difficult time, that God's healing hand alleviates the pain you are going thru, that God’s presence reminds you that you are not alone and that his mercy brings you comfort. Amen