May 2020 Wisconsin Baptist Lead Article by John Jones, Associate Regional Minister – Education
“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.” Philippians 1:12
I was planning on writing about Graduation and Mother’s Day for this May WB, days of gathering and celebration. With the “Safer at Home” order, graduation ceremonies have been cancelled or altered, and Mother’s Day will look very different this year. Life is dramatically altered because of a horrible public health tragedy. Our celebrations have been stifled; but more than that, the suffering and death brought about by this pandemic will lead to more mourning than celebration. Yet God is still God, and God is still here.
Our churches are no different. Church has not been “cancelled” by any means, because WE are the church, the body of Christ, wherever we may be. But we have all altered our manner of worship and ministry in response to this adversity. Our churches have adapted, frequently stepping up in new ways to care for and serve one another and neighbor. The old adage “we’ve never done it that way before” is totally out the window now. We’ve been forced to broaden our ways of being church and our very notions of “church.” The COVID-19 pandemic has forced some adaptive changes upon us, and I believe we need to take stock, even as we deal with the stressors and mourning.
In this time of anxiety and stress, perhaps God’s spirit is moving and stretching us toward something needed and new. We probably don’t know what that is right now, but I want to encourage us all to be discerning and open. Look and listen for the ways in which the Holy Spirit is bringing about something new through this challenge. Just maybe, the changes, skills, and habits that have been forced upon us will equip us for ministry in a new key and with renewed vigor. Let’s ask the question: How has the Spirit moved in this stressed expression of church?
May God’s spirit and presence comfort, keep, and inspire you in these difficult times.