Coronavirus And Ministry, Episode One

Hey there.
Three days ago we were wondering if we should shake hands. Today we’re shutting down our churches. This pandemic is changing everything, disrupting everything and putting brand-new stresses on the clergy.

(I had a bottle of hand sanitizer with me on my walk and asked a teenager to use it before petting my dog. He said that was “fire,” which I think is good? We were both very good-natured about it)

I know that many of you are getting up in the morning to go to empty churches to record a Livestream or Facebook Live or Zoom worship. I see that some of you have pre-recorded services and have uploaded them to church websites. Good for you. We are all trying to figure this out. Good for you for just staying with it, addressing a steep techno learning curve, teaching others what you know, and in some cases keeping things analog. Any response is fine. If you’re showing up by phone or email to try to figure things out, you’re fine!

I watched a few seconds of one colleague sitting at his desk talking into the camera. He said he’d be doing a reading, giving a sermon, and leading a prayer. That’s FINE! It’s not dynamic and cinematic but it’s FINE! That minister will probably spend some of this week learning some tech skills and develop something else for next weekend. Or maybe he will decide to spend his time reaching out to health care workers or leaders in his parish, or do something else entirely. I only hope that he stays out of large gatherings and protects his own and others’ health as best he can.

The thing to *not* do right now is judge anyone else for their decisions, unless those decisions are a threat to public health. Any pastors who are pooh-poohing the public safety and health officials’ warnings and instructions to stay home, avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing are willfully ignorant and pose a serious threat to public health. I hope you will feel confident in your righteousness to speak to those pastors. “God will heal” is an asinine defense for their irresponsible behavior. Remember what Jesus said to Satan: “You shall not put your Lord God to the test!!!”

This is not time to go to the hair salon, manicurist or med spa for facials and injectables. And no, you shouldn’t risk going out to get your eyebrows waxed or threaded, sorry. Do what you can at home to do the beauty things that make you feel grounded and good. Get good sleep, stay hydrated, stay faithful in prayer.

I am with you in spirit from sabbatical. God help us all.

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