So Donald Trump wants America open again for Easter Sunday on April 12th. I’d love to be in church that day and I’m sure Christians in America and all the over the world would love to be. Just not if it means people die.
We have lots of young people and families in our church, more than most but we love our old folk dearly and we don’t want them to get infected.
Church is the people not the building or meeting so we’re having to learn to do church differently over phone and video calls.
Trump seems to be demonstrating a huge amount of denial. We have never faced something like this in our lifetime. Our proud sense of advancement and control have lost their lustre.
This is like a film where there’s a germ warfare attack. The germs can kill the old and the weak. But there’s no baddie to blame. It’s on all of us. For some people at least the threat was not clear until they were forced to socially distance.
Last weekend there were countless cases of being going to busy places where they didn’t have to be. I get the trips to the supermarkets but nobody needed to climb Snowdon because it was a sunny weekend. Nobody.
Whilst plenty of friends I saw out and about on social media were at pains to make clear they were social distancing there were clearly people who weren’t. On the news I saw footage of people who were on a busy Bondi beach. One said it was a ‘last hurrah’. Great. A last chance to pick up some germs to take home to kill someone vulnerable.
It reminded me of my friend Mel who coined the term ‘human soup’ to explain why she wouldn’t go in a Jacuzzi. Human soup was her typically hilarious summary of what was going on – a bunch of people, a big whooshy tub of water and everything swooshing about. Sorry if I’m making you wince but the point is clear – you can’t sit in a Jacuzzi without a bit of, well sharing!
I’ve thought of that when I’ve thought of people’s behaviour around social distancing. Or not. It’s felt as if some people don’t want to believe that when they get into shared space, there will be some sharing. In our current case, sharing germs, which could prove to be fatal. For some the penny won’t drop till the numbers of deaths increase, till it comes to their town, their street, their family.
On another level this makes me ask questions of people’s view of modern life. It’s easy and tempting to think that all there is the material world. We are used to a world where it is normal to fixate on external appearances, an age of Instagram and Botox. People chase the thrill of the now – entertainment and experiences.
Now we know that we can actually see these germs – if someone sticks them under a microscope – but some people have are acted as if they don’t exist because they are not dancing about before their eyes. In other ways I believe there is more to life than immediately meets the eye.
We cannot find a soul or a conscience by slicing into us and putting it under a microscope but we know there is more to us than just flesh and blood. It’s when people are willing to stop in the quiet place where we acknowledge there is more going on. Sometimes there are things that force us to stop, a spine tingling bit of music, a game changer life the birth of a child or something like this when all of a sudden the music stops, the world freezes and we try and work out what to do next.
At this time we need people to be willing to listen to that inner voice. As Nicola Sturgeon put it last week (1) – ‘life should not feel normal’ and if it did you should ask ‘if you are doing the right things’.
We need to have that inner conversation. As Professor Hugh Montgomery says (2): ‘It’s not about you, it’s about everybody else’
There is so much we cannot see. We need to be willing to see past the imminent and the obvious.
Just as you can’t find a soul under a microscope, you can’t prove there is a God in and over our world. For me he is in the fabric of it all. Jesus said (3) that his Kingdom, the place he reigns is like yeast – just as yeast transforms dough Jesus wants to permeate everything. This is his heart, not to occasionally swoop down but to be part of everything.
I understand that people will ask what he’s doing about all this. I would say he is present not distant, wanting to help us all to do this crazy time well, wanting to work in us all to be his hands and feet to those in need and to work through some great minds to bring this thing to a swift end.
3 – Matthew 13:33