What does the future hold for us? The COVID 19 Pandemic continues and such uncertainty prevails in many aspects of our lives.
For my family, I have two children preparing to leave for college in a few weeks, and they aren’t sure whether their classes will all be online, or whether they will begin on campus for the semester. My two youngest kids don’t even know what high school will look like, and Presbytera Faith is unsure how to prepare for her teaching responsibilities for her elementary school kids.
What about all those who just lost certain unemployment benefits at the end of July? And for those who still can’t find employment and worry about paying their bills? Will life get back to “normal” this Fall, or early next year, or will we have to wait until the end of next year?
As I reflect on our Church Family, I’m thinking much about the long-term impact this pandemic will have on our Church community, and on the faith journeys of all our beloved parishioners. Some of our family have been physically disconnected from community worship and fellowship for almost six months. If this goes on for another six or nine months, what will it mean for our understanding of a faith community?
Will we have gotten used to not waking up on Sunday morning and worshipping together as a Church Family? Will some of us think that we have gotten by OK without the Church Fellowship and downplay it’s central importance in our lives? What has happened to our personal prayer lives and our efforts of learning and continually growing in the Faith during this time?
Thank God that during this uncertain period of separation from the Church, we have had our services live streamed for everyone to watch, but it’s surely not the same as attending in person and receiving the life-giving sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, which nourishes our souls and bodies. Thank God that our churches reopened at the end of May, and we have had many people come back, but some are still unsure to return, and the entire experience is not quite the same when we don’t complement our worship with the Christ-centered fellowship after the Divine Liturgy.
I think of our youth who have missed out on our annual Vacation Church Camp, our Metropolis of Boston Camp, and our experience of Project Mexico this summer. They have also lost out on the end of Sunday school in the Spring, and we will see what will happen in the Fall with our youth education.
All of this reminds me of the extreme importance of making every effort to constantly and daily nurture and nourish our faith from our homes and in our personal lives. Faith is a living, dynamic reality, and if we don’t consciously care for it, it will wither and die!
I challenge everyone who is a part of our beloved Church Family to honestly ask themselves, “What have I been doing to care for my faith during this pandemic? What have I been doing to not simply maintain my faith, but to help it grow and thrive? How is my relationship with Jesus Christ at this time?”
One way to nourish your faith is to join our weekly Bible Study. During this pandemic we have continued our weekly Bible Study. In fact, our group has grown during this time, and we have been richly blessed by our study and fellowship, especially the past two months that we have focused on the Beatitudes. Please think about joining us on Wednesday mornings from 10:00-11:30am via Zoom!
What are other ways to protect and nourish your faith at this time? Do you have a Prayer Rule that you try to fulfill every day? If not, I would love for you to come and meet with me, and I can help you establish such a rule – where you are committed to praying daily, reading Scripture and some other spiritual books, and going to confession. In other words, I’ll help you create a discipline to guide you to grow in your faith!
How about Christian fellowship? Despite our social distancing and separation from one another, can we make an effort to stay connected with people in our church family? We all have friends from work and from the neighborhood we stay connected to. But what about our Christ-centered friends? Do we try to make an effort to stay connected with these friends, and in these friendships to push one another in a positive way to constantly grow in our spiritual lives? We need one another. There is no such thing as a solitary Christian. We are a family that needs one another.
Finally, in our evaluation and in our spiritual inventory, what are we doing to reach out and help those in need all around us? Our love for God is seen through our love for our neighbor, especially our neighbor who may be struggling and facing difficult challenges. Do we notice those in need during this pandemic, and are we reaching out to them in some concrete manner? We always need to keep our eyes open and share God’s blessings with others. This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Yes, our future is uncertain on one hand. Yet, on the other hand, we know that Jesus Christ is ultimately in control. He is the “One who is, who was and who is to come, the Lord Almighty.” In Him, all things are certain! We never have to fear anything about the future as long as we live in Him!
So let’s make sure that we don’t unconsciously slip away from Him during this pandemic. Let’s make sure that we consciously strive to grow closer to Him, dwell more deeply in Him, and stay open to His Holy Spirit living in us more and more.
With love and hope in Jesus Christ our Lord,