I have a dear friend who lives in Winston-Salem; he and I went to Wake Forest University together in the mid-90's and earned our degrees from the Old Gold and Black. We've maintained our friendship for years and have often spent countless lunches, phone calls, emails and text messages caring for each other spiritually, emotionally and mentally. God has blessed our friendship in the present as he did in the past, and I am grateful indeed. Proverbs 17:17 tells us: "A friend loves at all times and a brother/sister is born for adversity." It is true, that in my case with this particular friend, there is no question of our love for each other--we are brothers for life!
Therefore, when I spoke to him the other day on the phone, wishing him an early birthday and talking about today's current COVID-19 situation, he shared a phrase with me that spoke to my heart about our "new normal." He said that some are calling this pandemic a "fresh reset," meaning that it is offering each and every one of us a chance to reconsider how we are thinking about things, doing life and experiencing life, letting go of those things which held us down and starting over in ways that create, share and celebrate meaning--within ourselves and among one another, even virtually. I like this phrase, and I believe that a "fresh reset" is in order for Christ's church and it's important to reconsider how we can worship the Lord together, serve his people and bring hope to a worried, anxious and fearful world.
Now, are pursuing God and God's people through new, technological means during our week. Many of you have tuned into our church's Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/ubccares) and watched our livestream worship services (Sundays, 10:20am) or participated in our livestream Mathetes "Live" bible studies on Wednesday nights (5:30pm-6:15pm). If people are not Facebook users, they now know they can watch the recorded worship services or bible studies at our website (http://unitedbaptistonline.org). This "fresh reset" has given us a chance to try new forms of technology, see that we are still connected though scattered in our homes, and learn new ways of being the church amongst one another and people from all over the nation or the world who might be watching (this is happening! We have people from various states and different continents watching our broadcasts). This "fresh reset" means that we now have a new way to connect with our community and world through livestreaming technology and can reassess what that looks like whenever we begin to meet in person one day again (see the "How-To" page for more information on how to connect with our church worship/bible study online).
We've also learned that the church doesn't have to suffer financially in the midst of a pandemic. You all are being so generous, even during the coronavirus! People are generously mailing in checks, stopping by to drop off their tithe/offering, or giving online (we've seen a resurgence of online giving since the pandemic started). God is helping us learn that his church ministries don't have to fade if the peoples' hearts and faith are strong and healthy! This means that more ministry and missions can be done when God's people give, consistently, and we are hitting the "reset" button as we think of ways to give and bless, not only our local churches but also other organizations that need our funds at this critical moment in our world's history.
Lastly, we've chosen to hit a "fresh reset" by taking a good long look at ourselves, within our hearts, to determine those things we thought were important but may not be as important to us now. More than just buying toilet paper or grabbing bottles of hand sanitizer, we are learning to re-center and refocus our attention on what matters and who matters; no longer do we consider jumping in front of an elderly woman at the grocery store or taking more than the limit of products of the shelves, we are more considerate, more caring, more understanding. These new attitudes will hopefully continue when people slowly, gradually, begin re-entering society and visiting businesses and church buildings again for worship. We will realize how much we missed our spouses and our children, how doing school at home wasn't so bad after all, and how having more meals at home together allowed us to watch those movies we've been putting on hold since we were "way too busy" beforehand. We are learning to slow down, relax a bit more, and realize and recognize that life is out of our control--instead, God, who sits on the Throne, is still working out Jesus' plan for our good and for his glory. This should strengthen our faith and cause us to trust more, and not less, give more and hoard less, bless more and curse less, and be kind more and judge less. We all could use a "fresh reset" in these areas of our hearts, minds and attitudes! Take a look at the prophet Isaiah:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
How will this pandemic change your perspectives on what it means to be the church? A spouse? A parent? A son/daughter? A friend? A child of God? If we are willing to see COVID-19 as a vessel through which our hearts can be changed, then we can use it for good (Rom. 8:28) while still seeking to serve others who are suffering and need to see the face of Christ during the days of this virus. God wastes nothing; this virus is no different. People are struggling in hospitals, losing lives, and wondering about how life is going to look in the weeks and months ahead. The church is organized by its head, Jesus Christ, and it's been called to respond to grief and loss in the ways that our Lord and Savior did while on earth. We are to demonstrate love through patience, kindness through compassion, and hope through biblically-supported faith. As our youth minister, Kevin Kiser recently said: "We were made for uncertainty." Yes, yes, yes! We were placed into situations in order to suffer for Christ's name, to help bring healing to broken hearts and to provide comfort for those who long for the deliverance that only Jesus can bring. Now is the time to let COVID-19 be our chance to experience a "fresh reset" in so many ways--technologically, financially, and attitudinally . God is calling us look within and start afresh, and to look with the eyes of Christ at ourselves, our community, our state, our nation, and the nations of the world. When we do, we can see this "fresh reset" as a mode of grace, given to us by God, so that all people might be reconciled to the the Creator of the universe in Christ Jesus and to one another, to the glory of God the Father. Amen!
So what is this "fresh reset" teaching you about God, yourself, the community of believers
and a hurting world these days?
John 3:30 <><