As Daniel pondered the writings of Jeremiah, as he “did the math” on the number of years the people of Judah would be consigned to captivity in Babylon, I would have to imagine he was fairly excited that the time of returning to Judah was drawing near.
Nearly 70 years prior, the people had been advised to build houses, plant gardens, and eat the produce, take wives… To “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7). They had been warned by Yahweh not to believe the abbreviated estimates of the captivity of the false prophets; it was going to be 70 years.
We have no such timeframe for the Covid-19 shelter-in-place deliverance. We have no divine assurance it is time to go back, or return “home.” We have no governmental directive to open businesses, schools, and churches. Returning to a sense of normal is an obscure dream, but, emotions and tensions are running high. Along the spectrum, many want to get on with life, while others are content to “wait this one out” a bit longer.
We have begun to hear rumors and to hear of plans to “reopen” churches. Many feel like they have complied long enough and it is time to get on with the business of “church.” May I say that the Church never closed? Others find that decision to be a bit premature. It is good that we want to return. I want to return. It is good to connect online, but we were wired, we are wired to connect relationally, physically.
Do we push against the governmental “edicts,” or do we continue to abide by the counsel of our leaders – the CDC, federal, state, and local guidelines; it is a difficult decision which stands before businesses in general, and that includes the institution of the Church.
Do we “gang up” and corporately hold services in defiance of the government? Do we hold parking-lot services? Do we maintain the status quo? How do we maintain our witness, and honor the powers that be? Churches all across the land are grinding through these kinds of strategies.
There are good people all along the spectrum, all of whom desire to honor the Lord. I, for one, am not quite ready fling wide the doors and jump into “business as normal” mode; getting closer, but not quite yet.
I would ask this, that we would be a people of prayer, that we seek the guidance of God, both when, and how to open. I would also ask that we spend this time wisely to nurture and express our faith. My guess is that we have quite a bit of Bible reading to catch up on. Still, quite a bit of growth we could be attending to still at home.
Just because we start filling our buildings doesn’t mean much if our hearts aren’t right.
Keep the soil clean, and ready!