I don't remember the Blizzard of '78, I was only a baby, but I have seen pictures and heard stories about it. My dad talks about weeks off of school and work while people dug out and recovered. I am sure this closed churches for a time; but the thing with a blizzard is that the end is always in sight...you know that eventually it will warm up and the snow will melt and life will go back to normal.
A blizzard is different than a winter though. A blizzard is a one time event while a winter (especially a cold one) is a season of life that might last for a while. But even with a winter, we can prepare. We know roughly when it will start (late November or early December) and when it will end (March) and so we know to buy supplies like salt or shovels. Even a season has an end we can plan on.
But this event, the COVID 19 crisis, isn't much like a blizzard or even a winter...but more like an ice age. An ice age starts unexpectedly and its ending is undefined. It might last a few years or decades or centuries. It lasts long enough that the people and animals have to learn to adapt to a "new normal" not just a gap in their everyday lives. This crisis is starting to seem like an ice age.
I don't know when this crisis will end. I don't know when we will be able to have church again. I have heard estimates from a few weeks or months and some say all the way until September until it might be safe to meet in our building again as we used to! Wow! So what do we do?
1. Be patient. The board and I will work to make sure that we make the best decision to keep people safe AND feed people spiritually.
2. Learn to live in a new normal. This means making your own spiritual health a priority. In the past we may have gone to the church building for our "weekly fill up" and now we need to learn to feed ourselves to a certain extent. Read your Bible regularly. Pray often. Spend time (virtually maybe) with others to encourage and pray for each other. And yes, make online worship a priority each week as we still try (in new and creative ways) to teach and worship God together.
3. Show Grace!! This season is stressful. Some of us are lonely, some are overwhelmed, some are struggling financially, some are stressed about health...but almost nobody is immune from the effects of this crisis. So show some grace to your kids who are driving you nuts. Show some grace to your spouse who is off their normal routine. Show some grace to each other as we may be easily frustrated right now. And show some grace to yourself as you may be stressed even more than you realize.
And let me know, as your Pastor, what I can do to be helpful. If you need food, toilet paper, prayer or just to talk. Feel free to connect and see how the church can help.
God bless you all,