Church Date 2020_03_20
March 20, 2020, 8:00 AM

"A crisis is a terrible thing to waste" (attributed to Paul Cromer, Stanford economist)

"Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days" (Ephesians 5:16, New Living Translation)

The economist's phrase from only a few years back has become a popular saying by now, but I hear echoes of the much older words of the Apostle Paul to the church at Ephesus.  And I hear both phrases speaking profoundly to where we are as disciples of Jesus, leaders of the church, and the people called Methodist right now, living through a global pandemic with local consequence.

In our modern English use, the word "crisis" has more of a sense of something negative and unwelcome.  Yet, its origin in Greek carries the sense of a turning point, a hinge moment, a place and time where the future is at stake in some measure.  Thus, turning points can lead in directions that are promising or in directions that are perilous.  So, to rephrase Cromer: "A turning point is a terrible thing to waste."  Here, I would ask What does it mean for followers of Jesus to not waste any turning point?

Certainly, the COVID-19 outbreak across our nation and around the planet is a crisis moment, both in the modern and in the neutral sense.  People are losing loved ones from the ravages of an unseen pathogen.  Businesses and employees are facing worry and potential ruin.  These are unwelcome foes of life as we know it.  But even in the face of these difficulties, there is room and need for choices of direction, both personal and collective.  How shall we live as people of faith with such stark reminders of our weakness and vulernability?  In what ways will we respond as human beings, created in the image of God, to the needs and possibilities this time presents us?  Is there some way that we who follow the Christian/Jesusian way of being in the world can, as Paul put, make the most of every opportunity before us just now?

I suggest there is a connection between "cross" and "crisis"--maybe not etymologically, but clearly, practically speaking.  Any major question-sparking crisis is truly a cross-roads where we will make choices that help shape the future.  And truly, for disciples of Jesus, the cross stands for the ultimate turning point in all of history.  What does it mean, then, for us to have a cruciform outlook on COVID-19?  While I share many grave concerns and have my own deep worries, I also believe in many ways we--you--are giving God the raw materials of the future even now in so many ways:

As you make compassionates choices for the sake of public health...

As you find sacrificial ways to give and share even in anxious times...

As you work to be creative with forms of worship and outreach...

As you develop significant spiritual and practical muscle memory you hope never to need again...

Indeed, so many of you are taking the fork in the road (as Muppet lore says) and are making the most of these days, days which may be tinged with evil but are somehow also soaked with grace.

Many prayers and constant thanks,

Terry



Comments

03-20-2020 at 2:45 PM
Gil Keener
Hoping this crisis will show people how important personal hygiene is and hopefully will carry on! Talked to a police officer yesterday and told him I thought people were being nicer, more polite and just seemed to care more! He agreed these were a few of the good things that are happening right now!
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