We are living in uncertain times! But, know that already.
When I read the reports about the ravaging capabilities of the coronavirus (COVID-19), it leaves me with an ominous feeling. It almost smells like death is inevitable. Even if you are not thinking in those extremities, it’s capacity for spreading fear, causing anxiety, cultivating relational suspicion, creating emotional chaos, and developing social distancing has crept into our most atomistic relationships. The world is frantic. World leaders can only issue commands, mandates, and guidelines for ensuring safety, knowing that this silent enemy, unlike anything we have experienced before could be lurking in our very homes. They do it in the hope that our precautionary activities will buy us some time. Time being a relative commodity is now more so than ever before. Some people might say that we are living on borrowed time. With every passing day COVID-19 entrenches its presence among us.
Would you have thought that in this modern era of advanced technologies, artificial intelligence, the most brilliants minds in every field, and with every kind of resource at our disposal, we would be left fondling for an answer to stem this pandemic? I can almost imagine this invisible enemy COVID-19 standing by and laughing at our feeble attempts to catch him out.
My mind goes back to approximately twelve thousand years when Moses, the greatest leader of the Israelites faced a similar situation in the desert. Back then, Moses was leading well over two million people. And, one by one they were dying, almost one-hundred people a day. No, it wasn’t a virus. It was God’s judgment on the nation Israel. And right there, in the middle of this invasion by death, Moses says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Right now, the human race, collectively, is under attack. It’s the HUMAN RACE! Not just America, or China, or South Africa, or South Korea, or Canada, or the UK…No! It’s the human race collectively. This is not an individual’s battle. This is a battle of EVERY individual.
It will be easy for me to be condemnatory and say that this is God’s judgment on humanity who have become errant, recalcitrant, arrogant, proud, stubborn, and self-sufficient. Perhaps it IS that, and it could be something else too.
Let’s talk about just one thing here in the time I have left with you. Let’s talk about social distancing. Social distancing is the prohibition of all social gatherings that exceed a certain number of people. In some places, a gathering of more than five people is prohibited, while in other places a gathering of more than one-hundred people is prohibited. This social distancing prohibition varies from country to country or city to city. This prohibition means that weddings would be canceled. What bout funerals? COVID-19 sufferers have died, will there be a funeral for them? Should there be a funeral for them? What id the prohibition for the funeral is not more than fifty people? Would a supermarket having a sale be considered a gathering? Would a business that has more than one-hundred employees be considered a gathering?
Is a gathering defined as an exclusive group of people who are familiar with each other, and who meet each other on a regular basis (churches, businesses, schools), or is a gathering an ad hoc group of unrelated people who have come for a planned event, or a one-time event (concerts, inter-organization conferences, inter-church conferences, inter-religious meetings, inter-schools)?
From a pastoral point of view, creating social distance may be more of a harm than good, especially if the group that is meetings are familiar with each other, and are fully transparent, and are taught accountability, should an individual contract COVID-19 elsewhere.
Are we coming toward the end of relationships as we know it? Taking our churches online is a great idea, but at what relational cost? And, when churches go online, does this mean that people remain couped up in their homes forever? Is COVID-19 a convenient reason to shift platforms form face-to-face to online? What about the blended church? Have an online service with everyone there and during the week small face-to-face gatherings? Or, better still, have people converge at different locations in small gatherings for an online church? Will the blended church be better?
COVID-19 is currently the most feared nemesis the human race is facing. Let’s think very carefully about how much we should cave in to his demands before we make decisions that when COVID-19 is gone, we won’t be able to reverse easily.
I look forward to your dialogue, suggestion, and your thoughts.
Selvan Govender, M.Ed
Pastor | The Safest Place on Earth