Lessons in a Time of Pandemic

Even though life for most of us is resembling the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, this Covid-19 pandemic is still teaching me some important lessons. Here are some of the things I'm learning, in no particular order--

1. A shared crisis can bring out the worst in people (like price gouging, large parties and public worship services in defiance of government mandates) -- but also the very best, too. Volunteering, sharing, and concern for our neighbors. Difficult times always reveal a person’s real character.

2. There are many ways to do Bible Fellowship! Sunday morning gatherings will continue to be the norm, of course, but we are now doing it (by Zoom) at other times, too. And former members who no longer live in Alexandria are reconnecting with friends and studying the scriptures together. I think that a lot of this will continue once we have come through Corona. Groups meeting at other times and on different days.

3. But Christians long to study the Bible together. I have been amazed at the number of people who participate each week. Studying Romans is only part of it, of course --we want to see each other and catch up in what's been happening in each other's lives. That's the “fellowship" part of Bible Fellowship.

4. There's a great lift that comes from humor. I'm enjoying the jokes that people are sharing on Facebook. Most of them, anyway. When we laugh, endorphins are released in the brain that help to block pain and raise our spirits. This is certainly a depressing time in the world, so we need all of that that we can get.

Early Greek Christians, by the way, designated the week after Easter as a time for humor. The Sunday after Easter is known as “Bright Sunday"-- a time for good, clean joke-telling. The idea behind it is that Satan thought he had won the victory when Jesus was crucified, but the Resurrection proved that the joke was really on him.

5. I am more of a "people person" than I realized. Instead of groaning when the doorbell rings, I now jump up and race Audrey to the door! It could be someone bringing a meal for us, or an Easter lily. A neighbor with groceries she had picked up. Or even someone doing a dance in our front yard, for entertainment. I have always said that I need lots of quiet, alone time-- but I think I have had enough of that by now!

6. I've realized again the great blessing that friends are. Each day we hear from people from across the country and over the oceans who have meant so much to us. And with FaceTime or WhatsApp we are able to look each other in the eye, tell of our love, and pray aloud for each other, too.

7. Christians instinctively turn to the scriptures in times of crisis-- especially Psalms. There are so many wonderful promises in the Bible, and reminders to “fear not" because God is with us. I know I must have read all of them at some time or other, and preached on most of them, but hearing them now it is like for the very first time. A fresh word from an old, old text-- straight to my heart.

8. Traditions mean so much. They give meaning to our lives and help us maintain a sense of normalcy in chaotic times. On Easter, lots of our people dressed up in pretty dresses, hats and jackets and bow ties-- even with nowhere to go. On Maundy Thursday they shared bread and juice in front of their computer screen, participating in an ancient rite of remembrance, instituted by Jesus. Then there was the flowered cross on Easter morn. It has been a long tradition at FBCA to take individual and family pictures there. We had decided not to have it this year, but someone evidently would not hear of that. They anonymously erected one and lots of our folks drove in to get that picture after all. And it was a beautiful witness to those passing by on King Street all day.

9. I appreciate now whole groups of people that, I guess, I had been taking for granted. I have always shown my gratitude to doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. But add to the list now grocery store workers, and the truck drivers who haul in the food that they stock and sell. Teachers, most certainly. Construction crews have still been working on the new building, too.

10. Our church is more alive and resilient than even I knew! In attendance (virtually) and in giving (online and by mail) our folks are remaining faithful during most unusual times. First Baptist Alexandria means something precious to our members, and they are demonstrating it week by week. A commitment made to Jesus, perhaps decades ago or maybe just last year, is still showing itself strong. I shouldn't have worried. Any church that has existed and thrived for 217 years is not going to let this pandemic get the better of it!

What are some of the lessons you are learning these days? I'd love to hear them.

Someone told me that the CDC is now recommending that we start wearing our face masks even when we are at home. “It’s not to protect against the virus," she said. “But to make it harder to eat!

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