Our Covid Year

It seems as though we have been living in March for the last twelve months--doesn't it?

On this date, exactly one year ago (it was a Monday), I was at home, sick with sinusitis and a severe case of laryngitis.  The day before, Reed had preached in my place. We didn't know it then, but that would be the last in-person worship service at First Baptist until August.

The next day, Tuesday, I went to the office and our staff and I discussed the looming Coronavirus threat and how our church should respond.

One thing we knew for sure was that our mission team heading back from Austria, lead by Audrey, would have to voluntarily self-quarantine and forego worship attendance for several days after their return. On Wednesday night I met them at Dulles—to pick up Audrey, but also to explain to the ladies why this was necessary. Later that very night we heard the announcement that President Trump was closing our country to airplanes coming in from Europe. Our team had gotten home just in time! It turned out that none of us would be going to church that next Sunday.

The next day, Thursday, I wrote this in my journal--"Meeting with the staff it was decided that we would cancel services for the next two weeks, and live stream music and a sermon from an empty FAC. I immediately prepared and posted a video announcement to the church that was well-received by the congregation. Two weeks—but honestly—when will we be able to go back to our regular schedule? It will be essential that we stay accessible, transparent, and honest. Trust is the currency. We are clearly in uncharted territory."

And so the wilderness journey began.

We all quickly learned how to use Zoom. There has been isolation and loneliness, anxiety and depression. I preached and taught the Bible exclusively to a camera for months. We have all felt the lack of human touch--and, oh, how we have longed for that.

Children sat in front of screens. No sports, proms, or socializing. Our children may one day be referred to as the "Zoomer Generation.” Adults have been working from home, too. Weddings have had to be postponed, and grief over the death of friends and family has been postponed, also--piling up for a day of reckoning some day in the future.

FBCA began re-gathering in early August, and we entered our new sanctuary in October. But it has been slow going. The pandemic has continued and most of our people have yet to return to church but instead worship with us online in large numbers.

Then, Audrey and I experienced COVID for ourselves in late January.

Yes, it has been a wilderness experience for each of us. But, in all honesty, it has not been all bad. I have been reminded that things can change rapidly, that circumstances shift quickly. I am not in control of much after all—but God is the one in charge. We all have realized the preciousness of friends and family and church—and how much we long to be with them.

This year has forced us to innovate and let our creative impulses come to the surface. We have tried new things, developed new skills, had some extra time to seek the LORD and spend time in His Word. I have seen the incredible faithfulness of our church in stewardship and mission outreach.

It will only be in retrospect, of course, that we understand what this was really all about. And how God was able to take even very bad things and, in His hands, bring good as a result (Romans 8:28). In the meantime, it is best that we stay positive, and hopeful. After all, He has never yet failed us. Older folks who've seen a thing or two in their lives should encourage the young with this. Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

The Old Testament book of Joel, chapter one, speaks of an invasion of locusts invading the land and devouring everything in sight. A frightening scene and sobering words that sound eerily applicable to us, perhaps. But Joel 2:25 follows with this wonderful promise from God: "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten."

That's a promise I intend to claim for our church and for myself—by faith.




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