Since our current health crisis is going to be our partner on our Daily Lenten Journey, I will endeavor to remain focused on our journey while not ignoring the reality of the Coronavirus. We’ve all been asked to practice social distancing, and many of our Church throughout the world have actually closed their doors. For some this has been a source of scandal, while for other it has been a relief from anxiety. Either way, it will be imperative that we do not allow these few weeks of social distancing to permanently change the way we interact as human beings, let alone as churches. One of the struggles we have as Christians is the call to avoid Church. As I preached about on Sunday, this seems counter-intuitive as Christians, but in obedience to our Church hierarchs and out of love for our fellow human beings, many of us will stay home, albeit temporarily.
That’s where I want to focus today. This is a temporary situation. Our Churches will reopen, and services will again be offered. What worries me, if I’m being honest, is how easy it is to develop new habits. Many of our Churches have experienced a decline in attendance, especially in younger families, long before the Coronavirus was discovered. I’m afraid after so many weeks of intentionally staying away from Church, many families will grow accustomed to staying home on Sunday’s and other feasts. It will require an extra effort to avoid this temporary situation from becoming a new normal.
In today’s reading from Genesis (you can read it below), we hear about an ancient form of social distancing. Noah and his family were commanded to distance themselves from the rest of the people in order to stay safe. They experienced the distancing much longer than just a few short weeks. In the end, God had their backs, and they exited the Ark and gave thanks to God. It is my prayer that once our Churches reopen in a few weeks, rather than staying away out of ‘new’ habits, we will instead come to Church to give thanks to God.
Then the LORD said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate; and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive upon the face of all the earth. For in seven days I will send rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground." And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him. – Genesis 7.1-5